anxiety
WELLNESS

15 Common Habits that Might be Triggering your Anxiety

Are you struggling with your habits and your anxiety? Then keep reading…

I’ve heard many adults talk about how hearing about mental health is more common nowadays. Yet, not all of them understand the importance of it. 

And they are not to blame. The baby boomers were a generation that grew up in a world where tears were a sign of weakness. In addition, it was only until a few years ago that having mental health issues was a taboo. A therapist, psychologist, or a psychiatrist´s job was to treat “crazy” people. 

So, it isn’t a surprise that whenever someone declares they have depression or anxiety, it is dismissed as something trivial or an excuse.

However, mental health awareness has spread all over the world. Moreover, slowly but steadily, people have become more open and sincere about their negative thoughts and feelings. In addition, more people are seeking help from professionals to help them to treat mental problems like anxiety and depression.

Regardless, I believe anxiety is a phenomenon that is taken less seriously than depression, even though anxiety disorders are more common. Surprisingly, some people confuse them as the same thing. Although they are both mental health disorders, and they can happen simultaneously, they are completely different.

Anxiety habits promotion

15 Habits that are Triggering Your Anxiety that You Need to Stop Now!

Anxiety disorders vs. Depression

The American Psychiatric Association declares the following about anxiety: “Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30 percent of adults at some point in their lives”.

Due to this excessive fear of what could happen, people with anxiety tend to avoid situations that trigger those feelings. 

On the other hand, depression is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a common mental disorder affecting more than 264 million people worldwide. It is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. […] The effects of depression can be long-lasting or recurrent and can dramatically affect a person’s ability to function and live a rewarding life”.

Moreover, the WHO signals certain life events as possible contributors to the development of depression.

Therefore, what’s the main difference? 

Anxieties disorders are related to concerns about future situations (close or far ahead) to which the person will be exposed. On the contrary, depression results from the “interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors”. This last one can be triggered by past life events.

balance in life

How does anxiety manifest itself?

There are a total of seven different types of anxiety disorders. Although they all can behave in different ways, anxiety, in general, produces the following symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness or feeling tense
  • Insomnia
  • Concentration problems
  • Hyperventilation
  • Weakness
  • Gastrointestinal problems 
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Sense of danger, panic, or doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Uncontrollable worries
  • Avoiding situations

Moreover, Panic Disorder (a type of anxiety disorder) can have more severe symptoms like palpitations, chest pain, fainting, numbness, chills, nausea, and fear of dying. 

As with depression, the causes of anxiety disorders are unknown. Yet, it is believed that they derive both from biological and environmental factors such as stress at work.

Habits that cause you anxiety

There are multiple treatments for anxiety disorders. However, if you are already seeing a mental health professional, but you keep getting triggered, it might have to do with your routine.

Without knowing so, you can be repeating habits that are triggering or worsening your anxiety. 

Wondering what those could be?

Here are some habits that are triggering your anxiety disorders.

1. Not moving enough

Running, walking, jumping rope, dancing, stretching. Anything that implies some kind of movement helps to improve your mood. 

The benefits of exercising have been discussed widely. The Anxiety and Depression Society of America states the following: “physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people.” 

Therefore, even if you work at a desk, you should always take a break, get up from your chair and go outside. If you don’t feel like exercising, then engage in other activities like doing the laundry or gardening. Do anything, just get up from the chair and put your muscles to work.

anxiety

2. Not sleeping

It is funny how so many people believe that sleeping is optional. We all have been there, sacrificing our sleeping hours for some project, some urgent activity, or for Netflix.

And although it might not seem like a big deal, long periods of poor sleep can worsen your anxiety disorders. In other words, sleep deprivation negatively affects your emotional health. 

Moreover, “researchers have found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety” (Sleep foundation, 2020)

On the other hand, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America comments: “Anxiety causes sleeping problems, and new research suggests sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder” (n.d.)

3. Social media

I talk so much about the bad effects of social media on people, that it might seem like I hate it. I don’t! In fact, social media is a great tool not only for connecting with family and friends, but also a tool for entrepreneurs.

Regardless, anyone who has a social media account must have experienced the bad side of it. Anyone? The overwhelm, exhaustion, and anxiety that it produces can be brutal.

It is normal to compare ourselves with our peers. We have always done so. However, with social media, we compare ourselves with hundreds of people in a really short period of time. Therefore, you should schedule your social media time if you cannot control it.

Unplug some time from social media and you’ll feel less anxious.

anxiety habits social media

4. Being late to everything

Been there, done that! 

Running late for activities, dates, and appointments can happen once in a while. However, when you are constantly late for everything, you are always on the edge. In addition, you are always thinking about the possible consequences of being late and the thoughts of other people about it.

What happens next? You get in a bad mood, you mess up and your day starts on the wrong foot. For example, your mornings could be a lot better if you just leave for your work on time.

5. Too much caffeine

There are millions of people around the world that kickstart their mornings with a cup of coffee in their hands. I am one myself. Nonetheless, multiple studies have shown that the excessive consumption of caffeine can cause symptoms similar to those of anxiety and, at the same time, increase anxiety itself. 

According to an article in Healthline, high doses of caffeine “are known to induce anxiety symptoms”. That same article cites the following: “A 2005 study noted that excessive caffeine consumption can lead to symptoms similar to psychiatric conditions including sleep and anxiety disorders, increasing hostility, anxiety, and psychotic symptoms”. (Frothingham, 2019).

Therefore, one or two cups of coffee per day are more than enough caffeine for you. 

anxiety habits

6. Too much alcohol

As with coffee, the high consumption of alcohol might be responsible for your anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant that is often consumed in social meetings, celebrations or just to relax. Nonetheless, the use of alcohol for relaxing purposes can actually have the contrary effect. 

The American Addiction Centers comments the following: “While alcohol can reduce anxiety temporarily, it can also increase anxiety within just a few hours of consumption. This includes even moderate amounts of alcohol, and the effects on anxiety can last into the following day”.

Thus, if you find yourself feeling even more anxious after a can of beer or a glass of vodka, you might want to start filling your glass with Coca-Cola or water instead.

7. Use of stimulants

From a cup of coffee to any legal (or illegal) drug, stimulants are everywhere. Sometimes, we don’t even know we are consuming them. For that same reason, without knowing so, we might be increasing our anxiety because of an excess of stimulants.

You might argue: “But I don’t use any illegal drugs!”. You don’t have to. If you drink coffee, alcohol, energizing drinks, and certain types of tea, then you are using stimulants. In addition, imagine adding loads of sugar to that!

Remember, with such habits, you are not fueling your body, you are fueling your anxiety.

8. Not eating enough

There is a complicated relationship between what you eat and your anxiety. I think we’ve all noticed by now.

However, we want to pinpoint how what you are not eating is affecting you. According to an article published in Harvard Medical Publishing: “Low blood sugar [and] poor hydration can also precipitate or mimic symptoms of anxiety”. (Naido, 2018).

In addition, this article states how the combination of a poor diet with alcohol and caffeine can increase your anxiety. In conclusion, Naidoo recommends a healthy and balanced diet as a possible remedy.

9. Not taking breaks

Not everything can be work, work, work, work…

It is understandable that we live a busy life nowadays. Yet, trying to work nonstop without taking a break only increases our stress and anxiety.

Resting our bodies and our minds is necessary to deal with our daily tasks. Alex Dickermarn states the following about recreational activities: “Planning such activities on a regular basis, and clearing time in our schedules to make room for them is challenging but crucial”.

So? If you feel like you are anxiety will go away if you keep a busy and packed schedule, you couldn’t be more wrong. TAKE a BREAK. 

anxiety habits

10. Negative thinking

An anxious person is always thinking about the future, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. However, people who have a negative perspective about life will probably experience stronger and constant anxiety.

Sabina Nawaz (2020), a global CEO coach, signals that an anxious person usually gets caught in false or limited ways of thinking that form a debilitating negative spiral of thoughts that revolve around the worst-case scenario. 

For such reason, you should try to see the bright side. Hope and work for the best outcome in everything you do.

11. Procrastinating

Procrastination is probably the guiltiest habit of them all when it comes to anxiety inducers!

The thing with leaving your papers, reports, and to-dos for later is that you will never be at ease. Why? Because you’ll always keep in the back of your mind those pending tasks. As the deadline for these tasks approaches, your anxiety will continue to grow.

If you have an anxiety disorder, making procrastination a habit will continuously trigger your anxiety.

“Procrastination is the result of avoidance, and both the result of and driver of anxiety. Anxiety associated with procrastination continues to fester and grows over time. Anxiety can become so uncomfortable that we seek relief for it, hoping there is some better way to tolerate things left undone. Chasing the tail of anxiety, or rather trying to quell the anxiety caused by procrastination, is ultimately time wasted and energy consumed” (Clark, n.d.)

12. Not getting enough sunlight

I get it, hiking is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, sunlight should be. Through sunlight, we get our doses of Vitamin D, which helps us feel happier and healthier. 

On the other hand, if we don’t get enough Vitamin D, not only can we develop health problems, but it can contribute to the development of depression and anxiety. 

Greenblatt wrote: “a deficiency of vitamin D has significant medical and psychological consequences. […] vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function” (2011).

woman working

13. Over-scheduling

A good time manager will be a productive and proactive person. On the contrary, poor time-managing skills will manifest not only as disorganization but also, as over-scheduling. 

And what happens when you have so many things to do that you can’t take a break or accomplish them all? You guessed right! You get stressed and anxious. It is ok to have productivity as a goal. Regardless, taking breaks and saying no to certain things is necessary to keep a healthy mind and body. 

14. Watching the news

If you saw the 2020 United States Presidential Elections through the news, then you already know something about feeling anxious!

Truly, watching the news is necessary to keep up to date! Nobody should be alienated from the outside world. Regardless, you should limit the time you watch or read the news if you want to stop getting anxious.

Watching all the news transmission isn’t necessary. Thus, limit yourself to watching just one of them, and don’t let it be before bed unless you want to take them into your dreams. 

15. Seeking validation

What if I don’t fit in? Will they like me? What will they think?

These are questions that cross almost every teenager’s mind around the world. As human beings, we like to fit in. Yet, the constant search for validation induces or contributes to our already existing anxiety when we don’t have the expected results.

Moreover, according to an article in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, reassurance-seeking appears to be a common factor in the different types of anxiety disorders. (Rector, N., Katz, D., Quilty, L., Laposa, J., Collimore, K., & Kay, T., 2019).

Therefore, learn that all people are different and you won’t get along with all of them. There is nothing wrong with that.

friends enjoying coffee

Your habits and your anxiety

Anxiety, up to a certain extent, is normal and expected in our daily lives. Nonetheless, the development of anxiety disorders in a worldwide population has brought to the public eye the importance of mental health.

Anxiety can manifest itself in different forms and it is important that we get the proper diagnosis and treatment. However, we should also build a lifestyle that allows us to manage stress and anxiety in healthier ways.

Unconsciously, you might be contributing to your own anxiety. Therefore, reflect upon your routine and seek those things that are harming you. Consciously, change those habits that are triggering your anxiety. 

Most importantly, remember you are not alone in this. Your anxiety doesn’t define you, but how you deal with it will.

Have you suffered from anxiety lately?

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2017). What are anxiety disorders? https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

Clark, A. (n.d.). Stop procrastination and eliminate Anxiety: Here’s how. https://www.findapsychologist.org/stop-procrastination-and-eliminate-anxiety-heres-how-by-dr-alicia-h-clark/#:~:text=Procrastination%20is%20the%20result%20of,to%20tolerate%20things%20left%20undone.

Frothingham, S. (2019, May 24). Does caffeine cause anxiety?https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-and-anxiety

Greenblatt, J. (2011, November 14). Psychological consequences of vitamin D deficiency. Psychology Todayhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency

Lickerman, A. (2011, October 30). Taking a break: Why breaks make us more resilient. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-in-world/201110/taking-break

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Anxiety disorders. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Anxiety disordershttps://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

Naidoo, U. (2018, March 14). Eating well to help manage anxiety: Your questions answered. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eating-well-to-help-manage-anxiety-your-questions-answered-2018031413460

Nawaz, S. (2020, January 2). How Anxiety Traps Us, and How We Can Break Free. https://hbr.org/2020/01/how-anxiety-traps-us-and-how-we-can-break-free

Rector, N., Katz, D., Quilty, L., Laposa, J., Collimore, K., & Kay, T. (2019). Reassurance seeking in the anxiety disorders and OCD: Construct validation, clinical correlates and CBT treatment response. Journal of anxiety disorders, 67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2019.102109

Suni, E. (2020, September 18). Anxiety and sleep. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/anxiety-and-sleep

Watkins, M. (2019, November 25). The connection between anxiety and alcohol. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/anxiety

World Health Organization. (2020, January 30). Depression. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

 

 

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