Things You Think Are Helping Your Anxiety But Are Really Making It Worse

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Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

According to SANE every year, around 14% of all adult Australians are affected by an anxiety disorder. Women are affected more than men.

At the same time, only 36.9% of those people are receiving treatment for it.

When coping with anxiety, what works for one person may not work for another. With that said, there are certain things that tend to affect most people’s anxiety in the same way, whether it be for better or worse.

With there being such a stigma still surrounding anxiety and mental health as a whole, it can be intimidating to ask other people about their coping methods. Due to that, you may be unwittingly making your anxiety worse while doing something you believed would improve it.

Keep in mind that, while it may take some time and a lot of effort, there is something out there that will help calm your anxiety. Finding a way to coexist with your anxiety is possible. To help you get there, keep in mind these things that you may think are helping your anxiety but aren’t.

Drinking too much caffeine can be bad for you.

Drinking too much caffeine can be bad for you.

Caffeine can make your symptoms worse.Aleksey Korchemkin / Shutterstock

 

You may think being more alert is good to combat anxiety but, in reality, the caffeine’s effects tend to be more negative than positive.

Caffeine is seemingly harmless, however, when dealing with anxiety, caffeine can ignite or increase our symptoms. If you can’t cut the caffeine cold turkey, try to at least limit your intake.

You might want to spend time alone — but that’s not always a good idea.

You might want to spend time alone — but that's not always a good idea.

You might end up dwelling on negative thoughts.Rawpixel/iStock

Everyone needs some time to themselves but there is such a thing as too much alone time. If you have anxiety, spending too much time alone with your thoughts can cause you too spiral and fall down an anxiety well, The Active Times reports. If you don’t want to hang out with anyone, at least go to a public place, like the gym or a museum, where you can keep busy with an activity.

Avoiding situations that trigger your anxiety can actually make it worse.

Avoiding situations that trigger your anxiety can actually make it worse.

It’s important to put yourself in situations that aren’t easy. TV Land

If going somewhere triggers your anxiety you’d think that the solution would be to avoid it, right? While this is true in some cases, overall, if you can handle entering these types of environments successfully, overtime it may actually lessen the anxiety they cause.

Anxiety.org recommends trying this technique, known as exposure therapy, with the help of a therapist, to see what you can and can’t handle. If a situation becomes too troubling for you, there is absolutely no shame in leaving it.

It’s common to check the time when you wake up in the middle of the night.

It's common to check the time when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Don’t look at the time.Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi/Flickr

When your anxiety is caused by sleep problems or insomnia, having access to the time is not helpful. I would wake up in the middle of the night, look at the time on the clock, and start worrying about the fact that I was not sleeping. A few minutes later, I would look over again at the clock and think about how terrible it was that I was still awake.

Try to resist the temptation to check your phone in the middle of the night as it will only make you anxious.

Numbing your anxiety through drinking or drugs may provide temporary relief with long-term consequences.

Numbing your anxiety through drinking or drugs may provide temporary relief with long-term consequences.

Alcohol will only make symptoms worse in the long run.Pra Chid/Shutterstock

When your anxiety has become overwhelming, the idea of numbing it can sound pretty great. If, however you turn to drinking or drugs as a way to “cure” your anxiety, it can lead to dependence and substance abuse. Instead of numbing your thoughts, Anxiety.org suggests trying to really focus on identifying your triggers.

Consuming lots of sugar may be comforting, but can also hurt your mental health.

Consuming lots of sugar may be comforting, but can also hurt your mental health.

Sugar can exacerbate your symptoms. CBS

Every breakup movie promises that a pint of ice cream will solve all your problems. Although it may be delicious, consuming a large quantity of sugar can actually lead to you feeling worried, irritable and sad. Having a little bit of sugar is alright but, once you’ve experiencing a “sugar rush,” your anxiety symptoms may manifest more intensely.

Staying informed may be setting off your anxiety.

Staying informed may be setting off your anxiety.

Turn off the news occasionally.Al Ibrahim/Flickr

In today’s day and age, it seems like all news is bad news.

“Televised news increases anxiety with the rapid pace of show content delivery. It can feel overwhelming to hear fast music and talking coupled with negative images. Rarely do you hear a positive story. The majority of stories are about war and violence leaving people with sensitivity vulnerable to anxiety.

Although staying informed is incredibly important, it’s equally important to know when you need a break. Set aside some time for yourself that is news free.

Pushing the negative thoughts out of your head won’t make them go away.

Pushing the negative thoughts out of your head won't make them go away.

It’s important to unpack negative thoughts.Strelka Institute for Media/2.0/Flickr

Managing the negative thoughts in your head is like riding a fine line. On the one hand you want to banish them away and on the other you want to work through them while not allowing the thought to manifest.

The Active Times recommends asking yourself questions to unpack what’s causing these negative thoughts and feeling of anxiety. Personally, I’ve found that writing down the first things that come to my mind can be helpful in this situation.

Dismissing any symptoms of anxiety will lead to you being down on yourself.

Dismissing any symptoms of anxiety will lead to you being down on yourself.

Only 36.9% of them receive any treatment for anxiety.Summit Entertainment

If you struggle with anxiety, odds are that at one point or another you’ve thought something along the lines of, “Why am I freaking out over nothing?” The reality is anxiety isn’t nothing and should be treated with the same care as a broken bone or a stomach ache.

Once you work past the stigmas, you can begin to heal and learn to cope with anxiety. As a result you can begin to stop feeling less of yourself for having it in the first place.

Fast walking is not the same as taking a stroll.

Fast walking is not the same as taking a stroll.

Slow down.Sean Gallup/GettyImages

Going outside and getting some fresh air can do wonders for an anxious mind, but it’s important to think about your body’s actions as you move.

“As the body moves quickly, the heart rate and breath speed up, which also occurs during a triggered ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

Taking a stroll and being present in the moment is great but choosing to fast walk can further trigger your anxiety.

There’s a difference between spending time with people who understand your anxiety and spending time with those who bring it out.

There's a difference between spending time with people who understand your anxiety and spending time with those who bring it out.

Surround yourself with people who understand.Vera Agency/iStock

It’s one thing to have a friend listen, it’s another when they can relate. In the case of anxiety, having people around you who have also struggled with anxiety can be extremely helpful.

If, however those people are either in a self-sabotaging mindset or very negative about coping with anxiety, you may also begin to feel this way. Find people who understand you but also support you in a positive way.

4 comments

  1. There are things I can’t face because of my anxiety and unfortunately no amount of “exposure” makes them easier. In fact, exposure can lead to additional trauma.

    • Yes I can understand exposure would cause additional trauma. You have to be so careful with exposure. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate hearing from you. All the best for the future. Erin

      • It works for some things, but not others. Riding buses is one example. No matter how many times I ride a bus, it feels as scary as the first time every time. School was often the same way. Yet I learned to drive despite my initial anxiety and I’m a confident driver.

      • You’re absolutely right that it works for somethings and not others. Congratulations on learning to drive. That is an awesome achievement given you found travelling on buses challenging. Thanks for leaving a comment. I appreciate it. All the very best for the future. Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin

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