7 Toxic Things In Your Life That Are Causing Anxiety
by Mia Mercado
Dmitry Ageev / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Like any aspect of our health, anxiety doesn’t look the same for everyone. In fact, there are plenty of things that might not look like anxiety but actually are symptoms for some people. Problems like insomnia, muscle tension, and chronic indigestion can all be symptoms of anxiety disorders. Because they are also related to many other mental and physical health conditions, these symptoms are often ignored, written off as temporary, or not thought of as related to anxiety at all.

In addition to acknowledging these less obvious effects, it’s important to look at what could be causing anxiety as a whole. These causes of anxiety, like its effects, vary from person to person. Mayo Clinic lists heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid problems all as potential causes of anxiety. However, these causes aren’t exclusively physical. Stress, trauma, and certain personality types each make certain people more at risk for developing anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are classified as mental health conditions. Because our body and mind work in tandem, anxiety can be caused by both physical and psychological things. In turn, when certain aspects of our life are becoming toxic, it takes a toll on our overall well-being, mental health included.

Feelings of anxiousness are a normal part of being human. Because of that, it can be hard to decipher when those feelings are becoming unhealthy. As Mayo Clinic states, “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.” However, when those feelings of anxiety seem to be linked to specific parts of our life, it might be a sign to take a step back and examine these potentially toxic problems. Here are seven toxic things in your life that could be causing anxiety.


Toxic Relationships

Being constantly worried about your relationship with your significant other or overanalyzing your relationship as a whole are two signs your relationship is making your anxiety worse. In general, feeling like you’re fixated on problems with your partner in an obsessive or otherwise unhealthy way points to the relationship being problematic as a whole. Identifying ways your relationships might be toxic can be difficult in itself. However, if you feel like it’s heightening those feelings of anxiety, it could be a sign that the relationship isn’t right for you.


Toxic Friendships

Figuring out how to let go of a toxic friendship can be difficult. Being able to identify when a friendship is getting toxic can be troubling in the first place. As Diana Peters, MA, said to Bustle in a previous interview, feeling like you always have to say “yes” to someone is just one sign that the friendship is toxic. “You may have a problem saying NO to this faux-friend,” Peters says, “which leads to anxiety, stress and even fear when it comes to setting limits.”


Unhealthy Work Environments

Your boss, coworkers, or pressing deadlines can all cause anxiety in the workplace. Feeling a little bit anxious about doing a good job can be healthy motivation for some, and it’s certainly possible to manage anxiety at work. However, acknowledging when those workplace stressors are taking a significant toll on your wellbeing is important. Furthermore, being able to acknowledge what isn’t “healthy motivation” and are signs of a toxic work environment is equally important.


Negative Self-Talk

If you’re someone prone to spiraling or obsessive thoughts, your mind might be working against you more than you realize. Worrying about other people judging you or constantly comparing yourself to other can both be thoughts that are worsening your anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that the way we talk to ourselves affects our health, specifically in the way of positive self-talk. The same is true when we think about ourselves negatively.


Drug Abuse

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Most people with alcohol or substance use and anxiety disorders experience them independently, but having both can be a vicious cycle.” Stimulants, like cocaine, can cause symptoms of anxiety to become worse. Feeling of anxiousness can also be a side effect of drugs like cocaine.


Heavy Drinking

Like other substance abuse, using alcohol to “take the edge off” could actually be making your anxiety worse. “Someone may trick themselves into thinking a few drinks every day is a normal way to relax,” psychologist Dorian Crawford has previously told Bustle, “But it actually is a way to reduce anxious symptoms in a not-so-healthy way." In fact, some studies suggest that heavy drinking can make anxiety disorders worse.


Trying To Suppress Your Anxiety

Attempting to push down feelings of anxiousness isn’t helping your anxiety. In fact, it could be making them worse. Trying to diminish a problem instead of addressing it head on isn’t helpful in the long run. Self-acceptance is a critical part of dealing with anxiety. Reminding yourself of that is a crucial step to managing anxiety as a whole.