Habits that make anxiety worse are everyday lifestyle choices that you and I unknowingly indulge in. These choices turn into actions which, when often repeated, manifest into habits.
These negative habits make our symptoms of anxiety worse, making it very hard to manage our emotions and behavior.
Below is a list of habits which worsen the symptoms of anxiety. We must avoid indulging in these habits to manage our anxiety symptoms.
Habits Making Anxiety Worse
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Lack of Sleep:
According to a study conducted by the University of California, lack of sleep is one of the main habits that make anxiety worse.
The Journal of Neuroscience found individuals who are sleep deprived experience a surge of anticipatory anxiety, as the areas responsible for emotional processing are greatly affected.
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Irregular sleep times, indulging in screen time like watching late-night shows or spending time on the phone/laptop are factors that contribute to unhealthy sleep habits.
Avoiding screen time and sleeping and waking up every day at the same time can help regulate your sleep habits and lessen symptoms of anxiety.
Unhealthy Food Habits:
Another habit that is a significant contributor to increased anxiety is unhealthy food habits. Skipping meals has a direct impact on one’s anxiety levels.
When we don’t eat, our blood sugar drops, leading to lower glucose levels.
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And, according to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety is caused due to low blood sugar(hypoglycemia). Also, what we eat and how much we eat plays a significant role in determining our mental health.
Imbalanced nutrition and overeating processed foods can magnify symptoms of anxiety.
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Eating at regular intervals and eating food rich in selenium, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and serotonin can significantly help one fight symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Lack of Exercise:
Sitting all day and not moving around much, has been found to have adverse effects on one’s anxiety levels. BMC Public Health, found sedentary behavior and anxiety are significantly related.
Exercising at least every other day is extremely important as it releases serotonin and dopamine- the feel-good hormones that keep anxiety and depression at bay.
Even a 10-minute walk around the house or your office can significantly boost your mind and body.
Food and water are essential factors contributing to our sustenance. It is not just what you eat but also what you drink that dramatically affects your mental health.
Unhealthy drinks like coffee and alcohol have been found to increase symptoms of anxiety adversely. Too much coffee, according to studies, has been found to make one jittery, irritable and nervous.
Another drink to avoid according to research is alcohol as it changes the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, worsening the symptoms of anxiety. Not drinking enough water and being dehydrated also leads to anxiety.
Our bodies lose the ability to relax, our minds cannot concentrate, and our blood pressure drops dangerously when dehydrated. It is, therefore, crucial that we drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
Are you juggling many things? -work, home, kids, gardening, paying the bills, etc.? Handling too many things at one time can be stressful and can add anxiety into our lives.
Multitasking, according to research, increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
High expectations from others and oneself can be exhausting and can greatly add to one’s anxiety levels.
According to research, perfectionism is associated with generalized anxiety disorder where the individual tends to suffer from the fear of failure and fear of judgment from others, causing him/her to indulge in obsessive behaviors.
If others do not live up to the person’s expectations, there is resentment, and if the person underperforms, there is guilt.
Setting reasonable goals and seeking happiness within yourself can help ease out anxiety symptoms.
Negative Self Talk:
Indulging in negative self-talk and tearing yourself apart when things go wrong can drain you mentally and worsen symptoms of anxiety.
According to a study, negative self-talk can interfere both with current behavior and your ability to learn a new response.
It is, therefore, vital that one alter their thinking.
Positive thinking enables positive self-talk, thus increasing self-confidence and one’s ability to handle situations.
Related Article: Handling Your Negative Thoughts The Positive Way
Spending too much time alone:
Anxiety may cause you to isolate yourself from others and become withdrawn. Your company may seem the best resort at the moment, but studies state that spending time alone is terrible for both your mind and body.
On the other hand, research also shows that spending time with people who love you and whose company you enjoy helps you function socially and also improves your mental health.
Spending time with negative people:
The famous quote “Show me who your friends are and I will tell you what you are” is a very apt quote. Friends who support your negative thinking and who think the same way, according to research, increase your anxiety level.
You may feel that your friends understand the way you think and support your thoughts, but studies show that “participating in intergroup anxiety” increases one’s anxiety symptoms.
Instead of spending time with happier and positive people can help change your way of thinking and make you feel less stressed out.
Too Much Social-Media:
Regularly checking your phone and emails to be on top of everything has been proven to increase anxiety levels. According to a study conducted by Baylor University, American students spent 9 hours or more on their phone addicted to one or another form of social media.
This kind of addiction to social media, according to the American Psychological Association has been found to increase stress and anxiety in users.
Training oneself to unplug from these forms of screen time and social media has been found to reduce anxiety and stress levels considerably.
According to a study, people who suffer from anxiety are more prone to suffer from procrastination.
Procrastination also is one of the major habits that makes anxiety worse.
The more one puts things off, the more the tasks pile up, causing one to become worked up and get tensed.
It is a continuous cycle of stress. Breaking up an overwhelming task into small manageable projects not only helps one complete a task but also helps the individual feel a sense of accomplishment.
Achieving a goal causes the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for pleasure and reward, which also helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
Sunlight is a natural resource which many of us take for granted. With the rise of indoor entertainment, artificial heating systems, and gyms, people tend to spend more time under neon lights.
Also, the fear of skin cancer has driven many people indoors causing them to miss out the many benefits of sunlight.
Lack of sunlight, according to studies, is one of the many factors leading to anxiety.
Spending a minimum time of 10-15 minutes outside does wonders for both your mind and body and dramatically reduces anxiety symptoms.
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Checking Your Phone Constantly
Cell phones are part of our daily lives and help keep us connected with our friends and family. However, our phones can be a tempting distraction with over-stimulation and constant social interactions via social media.
Such platforms, such as social media giants Facebook and Instagram, have been shown to increase our anxiety symptoms.
A report in the American Psychological Association even found checking your email too often can have harmful effects on increasing anxiety.
Having the habit of continuously checking your phone for notifications is associated with higher stress levels for everyone.
Driving in today’s world with all the cars and traffic is very stressful, especially if you’re running late.
If you get angry about an incident, it won’t help you get there any faster.
Being angry increases your heart rate, and your muscles become tense.
You’ll become more anxious from your anger physical symptoms.
Smoking cigarettes is a bad habit for more than one reason; cigarettes can affect your risk of getting cancer, destroy your lung health and ruin your teeth by staining and causing tooth decay.
Your mental health can be affected by what is put into cigarettes.
Many people go out for a smoke when stressed, but the relaxing effect is only temporary.
The Mental Health Foundation found smoking is associated with tension and increased anxiety.
Not Going Out On Weekends
If you have social anxiety, staying at home sounds great! Socializing with people makes anxiety worse.
It’s a proven fact that isolating yourself will increase your anxiety and make you feel worse.
Being social with people helps mitigate your anxiety feelings, and having close relationships is essential to anxiety treatment.
If you stay in all the time, it’s just you and your anxious thoughts.
The lifestyle choices, as I mentioned earlier, fuel your anxiety and make your symptoms worse. These habits that make anxiety worse can be altered with mindfulness and patience. So, don’t give up and keep striving to attain an anxiety-free life.