Anxiety is something that can be very tough to manage and requires a lot of attention.
When you have anxiety, you (hopefully) start to develop habits to reduce your stress and take care of yourself. Sometimes though, there are habits that we have that will actually fuel our anxiety.
From doing some research and from my extensive experience managing my own anxiety, I have compiled a list of 10 habits that you might not realize are totally fuelling your anxiety. I will also be giving you some tips to help you to stop those habits!
So let’s dive in.
1. Watching too much Netflix
Although it can be great to watch a funny movie with your friends or watch the new sci-fi thriller show that everyone is talking about – it is possible to overdo the Netflix in a way that can get in the way of your mental wellness and fuel your anxiety.
If you are spending a significant amount of your time watching Netflix too much (or TV or youtube videos, whichever your poison is), you are taking time away from other important self-care activities, such as:
- Hanging out with friends
- Relaxing (but real relaxing, where your brain isn’t being bombarded with tons of colours, noise, and information)
You may also be doing it to avoid important work, which will cause you to be anxious if you feel like you are falling behind.
How to fix this:
This can be a very hard habit to quit, and I still haven’t really mastered it – but I have found that planning things on a daily basis that you are excited for can help you to forget about watching Netflix and bring you back into the present.
Try even just small things like:
- giving yourself a pedicure
- doing some yoga
- or calling a friend.
2. Eating a lot of sugar/carbohydrates
First of all, eating sugar or refined carbohydrates can cause spikes in blood sugar and energy, which can cause crashes and dips in your mood.
Also, eating a diet that is too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates is not the healthiest, so if your body is not at its best (or most energetic), your mind won’t be either.
This means that you may not be as mentally resilient to be able to fight off anxious thoughts.
There is also evidence that if you have mild or “relative” hypoglycemia as it is known as in the medical world, you might experience feelings of anxiety when your blood sugar dips below its usual amount.
You might have relative hypoglycemia if you get “hangry” or very emotional when you are hungry. You may even get shaky or dizzy when you haven’t eaten enough.
How to fix this:
- Don’t skip meals
- Eat more protein and fat (to keep you full)
- Eat fewer sugars/refined carbohydrates to avoid the crashes
3. Skipping the gym
Exercise has been proven time and time again to be crucial in managing anxiety. It can be just as effective as taking medication, but it’s much better for your body.
If you skip the gym, you are missing out on all of the endorphins and a chance for your brain to focus on the task at hand, making you more mindful – which also has anxiety-reducing benefits.
How to fix this:
- Plan 3 days a week to work out
- Just take a short walk every day (once you’re out, you might feel like going for longer)
- Find a buddy to go with (you’ll also get bonus, endorphin-producing friend time!)
This one is a really difficult one for a lot of people. I honestly can’t give up coffee, I love it wayyy too much!
But I definitely encourage you to try to quit drinking caffeine or at least cut back a little and switch to decaf when you can.
Caffeine can cause a spike in blood pressure, heart palpitations, and more – which are all physical symptoms of anxiety! This means that your body will feel anxious and then that will trick your mind into being anxious as well.
There have been a few times where I have completely cut out caffeine, and I can honestly say that it made a world of difference!
And below you can see my expert photoshop skills to depict the true intentions of coffee.
5. Not believing in yourself/negative self-talk
You may not realize that you are even doing this, but when you have a negative perception of yourself, you will always underestimate your capabilities.
If you underestimate your capabilities, then you will feel more anxious about everything because you will believe that you won’t be able to handle anything bad that comes your way.
How to Fix This:
My advice is to try and be very mindful of your self-talk and your thoughts for even just a day.
Try and recognize when you are being negative and then think of more positive things that you could tell yourself instead.
If you start believing that you are strong and capable of overcoming obstacles, then you will be a lot less anxious about future events or things going wrong.
This is actually something that I go into detail about in my e-course: Design Your Anxiety-Free Life.
There’s a big portion about developing confidence through self-love and how that will help you fight your fears and anxieties. It also has tons of information on fighting anxiety and lots of exercises and plans to help you design a life that is anxiety-free!
Related Article: Journaling for Self-Love
6. Relying too much on others
This might be another thing that you are not aware of, but I know many people who do this and I am definitely guilty of doing this in the past as well.
We rely on others to help us with things we could do ourselves. Sometimes this is doing handy work around the house, or always getting someone to proofread something you have written, or, beware I’m going to get a bit deep here, to give us love or security that we can’t give ourselves.
Then we forget about our ability to do things for ourselves.
We start to believe that we won’t really be able to handle anything difficult when it comes our way. That then makes us anxious, because we start worrying about everything because we don’t think that we can handle it alone.
If this resonates with you, don’t worry, I believe that this is something that is very common and that has been ingrained in our minds to some degree.
How to rely less on others:
If you want to try to rely on other less, start doing the more difficult things for yourself.
Next time there is a leaky faucet at your house, try and fix it yourself. Or if there is something you really need advice on, try listening to your own advice. Just believe in your own abilities.
7. Social media
It’s no secret that social media can cause feelings of loneliness and depression, and anxiety too, yet we still use it compulsively!
I know that I used to be kind of addicted and I would constantly compare myself to others, which never made me feel very good. It then started to fuel my anxiety because I would worry that I wasn’t doing enough with my life and that I didn’t have enough friends or wasn’t doing enough socializing.
But social media is extremely misleading, so I take everything I see on there with a grain of salt. It’s not worth it to get caught up in that world.
How to reduce social media time:
I would say, either don’t let things phase you on social media or just try to cut it out.
Try deleting the apps off your phone for a month or so and see how you feel!
At the very least, unfollow the people who are making you feel anxious or like you’re not good enough! You don’t need that in your life!
8. Going out every weekend (or every other weekend)
Although going out and partying your face off can be super awesome, you can really pay for it the next day and overtime it can really affect you.
Experiencing a bad hangover pretty much feels like death, so most of us try to avoid that, but there are many reasons why it can be quite bad for you to have even a slight hangover:
- Alcohol can cause physical anxiety symptoms (especially when hungover)
- Alcohol/alcoholism can cause depression
- Your sleep schedule gets messed up and can take a while to get back on track
- You might do some ahem naughtier things that you might not normally do without alcohol, which could cause some anxiety afterwards
I’m not saying that you should never go for a night out though, because it can still be a great way to let loose and bond with your friends, just don’t overdo it!
How to Fix This:
- Try to convince your friends to do something other than going out! Just have a night in with some movies and some great snacks!
- If you have to go out, try having soda water or plain water between each alcoholic drink – it’ll keep you drinking a bit less and keep you hydrated (which will lessen your hangover!)
9. Staying inside/not getting out into nature
Nature is where we should feel most at ease. We evolved in nature for thousands of years, so I believe that it is still ingrained in us to feel a connection and feel at ease with nature.
Nowadays, we hardly get outside if we don’t have a specific reason to go outside. (There are some people who always get outside, but that’s because they really make an effort to do so – and that’s because of the incredible benefits!)
But there is lots of evidence as to how our bodies react to nature on a physical level as well as a mental level.
How to get outside more:
- Just make it a priority. This might be a bit obvious, but sometimes that’s exactly what it takes!
- Plan some fun outings with friends! Just google some fun things to do in your area and there definitely be something to do! And who knows, maybe it’ll be something you want to do again and again!
10. Using your anxiety as a crutch
This last point can be a bit controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. As someone who has experienced intense anxiety, I know that it is possible to use your anxiety as an excuse for not pushing yourself in beneficial ways.
I know that sometimes it is incredibly hard to do anything because your anxiety is so intense. BUT sometimes, when you are feeling a bit more mentally resilient, it’s important to forget about this label of anxiety and do all your self-care activities and even push yourself to face some of your fears.
Don’t let the fact that you have anxiety stop you from doing the things you want to do and from pushing yourself to be a better (and less anxious) version of yourself.
This is a topic that I cover in detail in my e-course: Design Your Anxiety-Free Life. It covers how to develop the right mindset to overcome your anxiety.
It also comes with tons of journaling exercises and a full self-care planner so that you can plan and track the things you need to do to overcome your anxiety!
If you want some other super actionable tips and ideas for beating anxiety, you should check out my free anxiety handbook! It has lots of reminders and activities that will help you feel great, and there are journaling exercises and other activities that you can try to start beating your anxiety.
I have also included a meal plan and exercise ideas that are great for your mental health (because honestly, diet and exercise are a lot more important in helping your mental health than you might think).
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Let me know in the comments if there is anything you would like me to talk about in terms of anxiety and fears. I’m going to start posting a lot more about overcoming fears, but if you guys have any suggestions, I would love to hear them!
Sagesse ("Say Jess")
Owner of Mindaya