Coping Habits That Are Making Your Anxiety Worse & How To Change Them
We all have different ways of coping with stress and anxiety but sometimes those techniques can make our anxiety worse than reduce it. Learning the difference between healthy coping habits and unhealthy ones is important along with understanding how healthy habits can help you deal with stress.
Anxiety can make you feel terrible and it can severely affect your life in so many ways. It can affect your productivity, physical health, as well as emotional and mental health. There are times when we can pin or identify the triggers of our anxiety and stress but sometimes it can be difficult to understand the stressors.
Anything can affect you and trigger the symptoms of anxiety. From relationships, work, or a certain situation – anything can make you feel anxious. When our anxiety and stress levels are high, we look for quick and easy solutions to help us calm down and make us feel better. But not all that you do to cope with your anxiety might be healthy. Sometimes the things or practices you engage in can make your anxiety worsen.
Unfortunately, how we decide to cope with our anxiety can have a huge impact on our overall health and well-being.
Some of the common unhealthy coping habits we practice to deal with stress are:
1. Avoiding The Stressors
When we are stressed, we generally decide to avoid our stressors which, in hindsight, might feel like a better option to avoid causing more stress but, in reality, avoiding and ignoring your stressors is probably not the best thing to do. Avoiding facing the reality of your situation will keep your anxiety temporarily at bay but the more you avoid your reality, the more your anxiety will grow and you’ll eventually lose your self-confidence to deal with your stressors.
2. Mindless Scrolling On Social Media
When we are stressed, we have trouble shutting down our minds as it constantly plays a loop of “what ifs” and the things that we need to worry about. To shut our minds, we immediately look for a mindless distraction, and these days the most convenient form of distraction is on our phones. While scrolling through your social media might take your mind off things for a while, consuming screen time for more than it is necessary can lead you to worsen your anxiety.
Before you go to sleep, avoid scrolling through your phone. Mindless scrolling can increase anxiety, disturb your sleep, and can harm your well-being.
3. Lashing Out At Others
While expressing our feelings and getting our emotions out might be healthy if we do it in a safe setting but lashing out at others we love and care about can be wrong. Bottling up your emotions isn’t safe either but venting about your problems and frustrations to people around you can be unhealthy.
Talking is good but the more you talk about your problems and stressors, the more your anxiety will rise. Thinking about and talking about positive outlooks instead of talking about the negatives can improve your mood and reduce anxiety.
4. Dwelling On Your Problems
One of the unhealthiest things you can do is to think about what went wrong. Dwelling on what went wrong and wallowing in your misery isn’t going to help you. It will just make your problems worse. Thinking about the “what-ifs” can make you overthink your problems and instead of helping find solutions, it can increase your anxiety. What you need to do in such a case is to be compassionate toward yourself. Instead of dwelling on what you could have done, think about how you can make it better.
5. Alcohol & Drug Use
Drinking your sorrows away seems like an appropriate solution, doesn’t it? But drinking your misery in alcohol or passing time with drugs can not only be harmful to your physical health but also mental and emotional health. Drinking a pint of beer at the end of the day is fine but drinking because you want to hide from your anxiety and stress, isn’t.
Alcohol and drugs might help you take some of the edges off but it won’t help you in the long-term. Alcohol and drug withdrawal is a serious condition that can lower the quality of life and your ability to stay focused.
Healthy Ways To Deal With Stress
These healthy habits can help you change the way you deal with stress and anxiety and make you feel relaxed and calm instead of anxious:
1. Get Fresh Air
Getting some fresh air and sunlight can improve your mood and make you focus on the present moment as is proven by many research studies. Vitamin D that we receive from sunlight can increase your serotonin levels and lower your stress levels.
Next time, you’re stressed; Go for a walk!
2. Maintain A Ritual
Everyone has a ritual that they partake in every day. Whether it is taking your dog for a walk before bedtime or listening to your favorite playlist while doing something – these rituals or habits can help you keep your stress at bay. Maintaining a routine can effectively help you focus on the now instead of the past or the future. A routine helps you keep your body’s ability to deal with stress and make you feel in control.
Meditating or engaging in any spiritual prayer or practice can help as well. Meditating and focusing on your breathing can help you feel calm in times of stressful situations. Chanting a positive affirmation or a mantra that helps you calm down can help you reduce your anxiety and stress.
Being in a meditative state can also help you gather your thoughts and figure out the stressors and what you need to do to remove them. You can try different kinds of meditation like mindfulness meditation, LKM, pet meditation, or music meditation.
4. Go To Your Happy Place
Going to your happy place is one of the healthiest ways to reduce stress. Close your eyes, focus on a memory, image, or place that makes you feel happy and puts a smile on your face, and let yourself be there for a few minutes or for how long as you need. Transporting your mind to your happy place helps reduce the cortisol in your system and make you feel calm and relaxed.
Endorphins play a major role in helping us reduce stress and make us feel good. Exercising is one of the best ways to relieve stress and release the rush of endorphins in our body. Endorphins can help you improve your sleep, boost your mood and energy, and feel relaxed. Keeping an exercise routine can help you stay in shape – mentally and physically.
There are many exercises you can try like swimming, cardio, cycling, or any other activity that interests and motivates you. 15-30 minutes of exercise can be good for you if you’re a beginner.
Get Help If…
You are facing difficulties in coping on your own. Sometimes stress and anxiety can become too overwhelming and we can face trouble dealing with them healthily and safely.
Remember that treatment for anxiety and stress is available. Talking to a professional mental healthcare provider can help you get unstuck from the constant loop of stress and anxiety. Calm Sage has trained and licensed professionals available to help you and you can reach out to them on our services page or you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If the problem can be solved why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.” – Shantideva
Live well, worry less.