The annoying thing about anxiety is it can have a million and one causes — mental conditions, physical conditions, stress, side effects from drugs. The list goes on and on. But sometimes, all it takes is a seemingly innocent habit to make anxiety worse.
This isn't great news if you have anxiety and do everything in your power to keep it under control. Maybe you are all about meditation, or do yoga on the regular. Maybe you chat with a therapist, or are super diligent about taking anxiety medication. So how perfectly annoying is that your daily habits can kind of undo all that hard work? Pretty annoying, if you ask me.
Now, I'm not saying your daily habits cause anxiety, per se. I'm just talking about little things (like whether or not you drink coffee), that can bring on the nerves, the jitters, and the stress — all things you don't want if you suffer with anxiety.
There is good news, however. As with all habits, you can change your ways and thusly tone down your anxiety. It just takes recognizing what things can make anxiety worse, and then working to eliminate them from your life. Read on for some of these sneaky, sneaky anxiety-inducing habits.
1. Staying Inside All Day
I get it — when you're feeling anxious, it can be mighty tempting to hang out at home. But, comforting as it may feel, it won't do much for your worrying ways. In fact, research has shown that staying inside is one of the worst things you can do for anxiety, according to Anda Jines on ChicagoCounseling.org. "Being outdoors and spending time with others keeps you active, focuses your mind on productive tasks, and helps to stimulate pleasant feelings," she said. All things that don't happen when you stay home.
2. Hanging Out With Anxious Types
If you're kind of quiet and nervous, then you probably gravitate towards other anxious types. (Birds of a feather, right?) But this isn't always a good thing. The anxiety can rub off, compound itself, and get worse. "It even affects me if I don't realize that I have been around anxious person after anxious person," says Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, in an email to Bustle. So be sure to have a few calm presences in your life, and try to emulate their ways.
3. Running Behind Schedule
Continuing to hit snooze in the morning and running around is a terrible and anxiety-provoking way to start your day, according to Nicole Martinez. And I couldn't agree more. I've seen the chillest people on the planet completely lose their cool when running behind schedule. So if you have anxiety, definitely avoid morning chaos at all costs.
4. Living In The Coffeeshop
As much as you "need" your daily lattes, drinking too many of them can turn you into a jittery mess. "Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase heart rate and respiration, making us feel anxious," Martinez says. Since that's not exactly the desired effect, it may be time to weigh the pros and cons, and decide if those beloved drinks are actually worth it.
5. Getting Overwhelmed At Work
Take a look at your work habits. Do you make to-do lists and schedules and stick to them throughout the week? Or do you let projects pile up and then panic in the 11th hour? If the latter is the case, it makes sense why anxiety is creeping into your life. To avoid it, according to Martinez, you'll want to break tasks down into manageable steps. Hopefully that'll put an end to your procrastination habit, and help keep anxiety levels down.
6 Eating An Abundance Of Sugar
Sugar can affect you in a variety of negative ways, and anxiety is definitely one of them. That's because it's absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, according to an article on EverydayHealth.com. Sugar does it's thing, gives you energy, and then vacates your body super fast. The result is a blood sugar crash that can leave you feeling mighty low, shaky, and anxious.
7. Listening To Sad Music
As far as habits go, music is one that you might not even think about. But take a second to scroll through your Spotify. Are all your playlists complete downers? If so, it could be making your anxiety worse. "It’s well-known that music can influence your mood," Jines said. "You should listen to music that represents the mood you wish to have, not the mood that you want to avoid."
8. Not Getting Enough Sleep
If you're constantly constantly hitting the hay at 1 a.m. and getting up a few hours later, then you can pretty much guarantee you're nerves will be frayed. "When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated, which can increase stress," noted an article on WebMD.com. "Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night." So make sure you get it.
9. Complaining All Day Long
It's one thing to talk about your problems. It's an entirely different thing to complain about everything all day long. "If you do nothing more than complain, it only leads to feelings of regret and negativity," Jines said. "Your goal is to reduce your anxiety rather than fuel it, so rather than just complaining about what bothers you, talk about what bothers you while looking towards new ways to change it." Solid advice.
10. Forgetting To Exercise
I "forget" to exercise all the time, even though I know moving around is good for my nerves. As noted in an article on CalmClinic.com, "Exercise is an incredibly important component of treating anxiety, and a lack of exercise is possibly one of the main reasons that anxiety numbers have increased over the past several decades." Developing a routine — even if it's just going for a walk every day — really can do wonders.
11. Not Cleaning Your Apartment
Be honest, how gross is your apartment right now? If it's messy and cluttered, it could be adding to your anxiety. As Jines said, "A dirty house creates anxiety, and your own worries about how other people see your home can only serve to fuel it further." So don't let things get out of control. Make a habit of straightening up before bed each night, and doing a good clean at least once a week.
If you can break some of these habits, your nerves will surely thank you.
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