Anxiety disorders are the most common kind of mental disorder than anyone in America experiences, affecting 18.1% of the country’s adult population. It can be challenging to beat anxiety. Plus, it is even harder when your habits are unknowingly worsening it.
Believe it or not, the things you do every day and not put much thought into could be the cause behind worsened anxiety symptoms. Quitting these behaviors may even help reduce those symptoms in an efficient and easy way, which, while it doesn’t get rid of anxiety entirely, is certainly helpful! Here are five habits to let go that help you beat anxiety.
Beat Anxiety by Breaking These Five Habits
1 – Overcommitting
Overcommitting is a simple concept: you pack your schedule full, perhaps hoping to get that rush of accomplishment that comes with productivity. But trying to do all those things at once can lead to a tremendous amount of anxiety, whether your tasks involving meeting people, attending events, or completing errands.
Selectively choose the most critical tasks and spread your schedule out. There’s no need to pack everything into one week. Learn to prioritize! Here are some habits surrounding overcommitting that hinder you in your quest to beat anxiety:
Not Scheduling Breaks
If you’re going at full speed nonstop, you’re going to up your anxiety levels significantly. Energy levels will drop throughout the day and make you less efficient, adding to overall stress. You don’t need long breaks – take 5 or 10 minutes every hour or so to breathe and relax in peace and quiet.
When you overbook yourself, the overwhelming feeling that accompanies it can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety. This then leads you into a vicious cycle – you have too much to do too quickly, so you get anxious and procrastinate, which causes you to have even more to do too soon. Don’t get caught in this vicious trap!
Always Running Late
What is your morning routine like? Are you always rushing out the door with barely a minute to spare? Of course, this is going to be a source of anxiety or stress, and it’s also going to set the tone for the rest of the day – you’ll be quicker to anger and get frustrated over small things more easily. Plus, running late to all your appointments is a nerve-wracking experience, and it inconveniences others, too.
3 – Checking Things Too Often
In our modern world, it is very easy to get caught up in the constant barrage of information that comes at us from every corner, on every device, from every medium. But it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t be a slave to all this information.
Yes, it’s all very convenient, and it’s great to connect to the rest of the world. But when you become so obsessed with this that you’re constantly checking things, you wind up worsening symptoms of anxiety. Here are some things to stop checking too often:
Phones are very distracting and offer countless methods of entertainment and distraction, but they can be very harmful. Checking your phone too often can cause you to feel a lot of stress as you look for notifications time and time again. On top of that, being available to contact 24/7 is known to worsen symptoms of anxiety.
Yes, the news keeps you informed. But if you watch it first thing in the morning, the barrage of bad or stressful news stories can already set a bad precedent for your day. You see negative images, learning about the horrors around the world, and listening to this fast-paced music. Instead of always watching the news or checking news apps, control how much of it that you consume in one sitting over a particular time.
It’s easy to stay connected to acquaintances and loved ones via social media, but that isn’t all that we see in there. We see people pretending to have perfect lives that you fall for, which proves to reduce positive thinking. On top of that, social media can be very distracting, so once you start checking it, you may wind up spending hours there, not even noticing the time flying by! So set timers for social media checking and don’t spend more than 15 minutes scrolling.
3 – Drinking The Wrong Things In The Wrong Way
A lot of people don’t put much thought into what they drink in a day. But if you think what you eat is essential, you should feel the same about what you drink. After all, drinks enter your body the same way and are even similar digested! Here are some lousy drinking habits that you need to get rid of to beat anxiety:
Too Much Coffee
Coffee contains a lot of caffeine, which helps you stay awake but also acts as a stimulant. This causes increased heart rates, which lend themselves well to alertness, but worsen anxiety symptoms and restlessness. Do note that this applies to all caffeinated beverages, not just coffee!
Too Little Water
Every single bodily function we experience requires water. Our organs need water, our processes need water, and our health needs water. A lack of water leads to dehydration, which increases heart rates, adding to the anxiety.
Too Much Alcohol
When you experience anxiety, you’re already much more likely to be an alcohol drinker, but it’s a habit that must be kicked. Heavy consumption of alcohol can affect your brain, leading to even more severe anxiety symptoms. Essentially, by drinking to deal with anxiety, you’re making it worse.
4 – Eating The Wrong Things In The Wrong Way
You are what you eat! Well, not really, but in this case, that old phrase rings true. Bad eating habits can worsen symptoms of anxiety quite significantly. Here are some of the things you may be doing with your food that could be messing you up:
We’ve all heard praises of low-fat diets, but did you know that a lot of “low-fat” beliefs are incorrect? It’s true that certain types of fats – namely trans fats – are horrible for you. But healthy fats are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for reducing inflammation that can contribute to anxiety and physical health issues! Fats are needed to keep your organs healthy!
Ever notice that, when you’re upset, you always crave carbs? This is likely because carbohydrates can boost serotonin – a feel-good hormone – and its production. Of course, plenty of people today eat low-carb diets, and you don’t have to stuff yourself with carbs to reduce anxiety. Instead, have healthy servings of whole grain-based carbohydrates during meals.
No one is intentionally eating low levels of protein, but it happens sometimes. When you rely only on carbs for energy, you’re more likely to experience dramatic blood sugar fluctuations that can cause crashes of mood and energy.
With the challenging economic situation many people – especially the younger generation – are facing, skipping meals has become commonplace. But skipping meals causes your blood sugar levels to dive, leading to mood and energy crashes. Consistent meals are needed throughout the day to keep anxiety in check.
Eating Too Little
If you’re working on losing weight, you may be cutting down on a lot of calories. But ultra-low-calorie diets can cause a lot of stress on the body and may even produce long-lasting, negative psychiatric results that may continue for the rest of your life. By all means, consume with a calorie deficit when you’re trying to lose weight, but don’t let yourself starve! Diet in a safe, positive way.
Eating On The Go
It’s convenient to grab some food and eat it while hurrying along to your next appointment or commitment. But eating while moving removes your body’s natural, correct chewing methods, and this leads to digestive system struggles. These gut issues can lead to indigestion that, finally, results in anxious emotions.
5 – Spending Your Free Time In The Wrong Ways
Free time should be a quick, natural stress-buster. Well, wrong! You need to make sure that the free time in question is being spent in the best way possible. Misuse your free time, and you’ll make the anxiety worse. Here are some free time habits to avoid:
Spending All Day Indoors
It’s comfortable inside your home, but spend all your time in there, and you may wind up dealing with a decrease in positive thinking and an increase in stress. Fresh air improves mood and can even boost productivity, and sunlight exposure helps regulate your circadian rhythm to allow for healthy sleep-wake cycles, which are needed for lowered anxiety.
Staying Up All Night
Even night owls need regulated sleeping times. Sleep plays a huge role in mental health, and getting too little sleep (any less than 8 hours) can significantly exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. So instead of watching an extra episode of that show you’ve been binging, call it a night. It’s for your good!
Staying In One Weekends
After a long week at work, you may want to crash at home and never move. This is especially true if you’re a socially anxious person who would rather not deal with people over the weekend. But isolation is often much worse than the difficulty of socialization. You need to maintain close relationships with those you care about and interact with them regularly to reduce anxiety.
Not Having Free Time At All
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to miss out on self-care time, or any time at all that’s just dedicated to you. But “me time” is very, very necessary for anxiety management. If you have trouble getting free time, schedule it! Consider it a date with yourself. Just half an hour of “me time” per day can help you recharge and reduce anxiety levels.
Final Thoughts On Some Habits To Let Go That Help Beat Anxiety
Anxiety can be tough to manage as is without the addition of negative habits that further ruin your positive thinking and mood. So take a look at your daily habits. Which ones are indirectly making symptoms of anxiety worse? Let go of them, and you may be surprised at how much it helps.
Of course, do note that anxiety disorders are genuine and often severe mental disorders that require professional aid. If you think you are struggling to beat anxiety disorder, seek help from a mental health professional.