Although there is no magic wand to wave and dispel chronic anxiety, we can do our best to avoid habits that make anxiety worse.
By continuing with habits that create or perpetuate anxiety, we cannot hope to ever be free from the symptoms. Anxiety behaviors also cancel out some of the benefit we get from counseling and, if we use any, medication.
Anxiety-promoting habits reinforce any brain wiring that makes you susceptible to anxiety. The only way we know of to naturally rewire the brain is to engage in behaviors that build the brain circuitry we want and weaken the circuits we dislike through disuse.
Five Behaviors to Avoid
1. Stuffing Yourself with Stimulants
You know that if you are anxious, ingesting stimulants will make you feel worse. If you take them continually, your body can never fully relax. This puts a strain on not only your mental health but your physical health as well. So reduce or avoid tobacco, caffeine (coffee, chocolate, soda, tea), alcohol, and illegal substances.
2. Surrendering Your Lifestyle to Symptoms
Adjusting your lifestyle to the idea that you are a victim of anxiety will naturally keep you a prisoner of the symptoms. Although the feeling of anxiety can be intensely uncomfortable, even make you feel sick, it is important to maintain lifestyle habits that counter the symptoms. Make sure you spend time with people you enjoy, engage in fun activities, learn new things, and make sure there is laughter in your life.
3. Too Many Late Nights
Even the healthiest people get cranky and over-emotional when they have not had enough sleep. Getting enough Z's is crucial to our mental and physical health. Anxiety can make falling or staying asleep tricky, but there are things you can do to help yourself get enough rest. For instance, religiously follow a simple bedtime routine, exercise regularly, retire and rise at the same times each day.
4. Being a Couch Cucumber
All of us need to stay active for good physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise does not have to be vigorous, although for some individuals vigorous exercise is essential. Others do well with activities such as fast walking, bike riding, yoga, Tai chi, housecleaning, and gardening. It is unimportant what keeps you moving, just that you move.
5. Listening to Negative Thoughts
Instead of trying to fight off negative thoughts, you can notice them when they enter your awareness and then let them go. You might mentally tell them, “Thanks for stopping by, but it’s time to leave.” You can throw them into an imaginary circular file or put them in an imaginary helium balloon and watch them drift away. Also, read inspirational materials, watch life-affirming movies, and spend time with people who care about you.
Article inspiration: 5 Destructive Anxiety Habits