A big presentation or planning an event ought to make you anxious. But are you constantly worried about little things? If you are constantly anxious, then you need to take a step back and look into your habits. There are lots of habits that can aggravate your anxiety, especially if you are already prone to anxiety, in general. That is why you need to be vigilant about your habits so that you can nip this issue in the bud.
Anxiety can creep up on you when you are least expecting it. Small inconspicuous habits can collectively allow this little seed of stress to grow into a large tree of anxiety. While stress is a response to a threat in a situation, anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Change starts with knowledge. So, allow yourself to know more about these tiny habits that can cause anxiety in you.
1. Incessant Smart-Phone Use
Smartphones are one of the greatest gifts of technology to be bestowed upon us. But the downsides of this technology have started to become more and more glaring over the past few years. An excessive use of the phone to constantly check your emails, apps etc. is not good for you or your mental peace. And if you allow your sleep to be disrupted by this habit, then you are going to pay for it eventually. 1
Researchers have been looking into this habit to find more about the depressive tendencies in people. Studies have found that depressive people are more likely to use their phones to avoid feeling depressed and sometimes to even seek social interaction.2 This can help them to feel better temporarily, but not for long. So, phones can be helpful in alleviating some symptoms of stress in some cases, but an overuse is bound to be stress-inducing for most.
2. The Obsession With Good Health
Good health may be a big priority in your life and that is a great thing. But try to look at your need to be healthy as objectively as you can. If your need to be healthy is giving your nightmares, then maybe you need to learn to relax first.
Obsessing over your diet or exercise incessantly can only increase your stress. Expecting to see quick results on the scale is another thing that can add on to your stress. Being healthy should be a choice that you make and follow through to have a healthier and happier life. It shouldn’t become the cause for your failing physical and mental health.
3. The Company You Keep
When you have a lot on your plate, you are bound to be stressed. But if you start hanging out with people who are always stressed, then you will start reciprocating to life the same way. You will start feeling stressed out even when you have nothing to be stressed about because that will become your way of life.
So, take a step back. Take a hard look at yourself and the company you keep, and make some changes before it’s too late. Always remember that you are defined by the company you keep. Venting out with your pals might make you feel nice momentarily, but learning to handle your stress is the only way you can thrive under it.
4. A Cup Of Stress
Whether you are a fan of coffee or dark chocolate, your urge to binge on either one of these can cause anxiety. Caffeine is known for stimulating your senses and increasing alertness in people.3 That can be a boon during your bad days. But excessive consumption of caffeine can have detrimental effects. The receptor system that is responsible for mediating caffeine effects plays a role in the regulation of anxiety as well. These receptors can vary in people due to their genetic make up which is why the effects of caffeine can also vary among people.4 But if you are generally an anxious person, then you should definitely keep a check on your caffeine consumption.
5. The Downside Of Multitasking
Sometimes multitasking becomes a necessity to get many things done all at once. And it is alright to multitask as and when it is required. But you should avoid making a habit out of it. Scientists have found out that multitasking caused an IQ score decline similar to those who have stayed up all night. And it can also make you less efficient as switching between tasks can make you forget details. When you are working on one task, both sides of your prefrontal cortex work together to get that task done. But when you add on more tasks to the list, your brain literally use only a part of your brain to do one task. And this can only add on to your anxiety.5
Media multitasking is very common. It is considered ‘normal’ to keep switching back and forth between apps to chat and do other things simultaneously. But this very habit has been associated with social anxiety and depression in people. So, a better way to go about a busy day is to prioritize, make a list, plan ahead, and execute.6
6. Social Media Woes
Your brain can automatically start to compare your life with your friends’ lives when you scroll down your Facebook newsfeed. This comparison can cause anxiety and a feeling of despair. When you start putting pressure on yourself to live a life as per others’ standards, you are going feel anxious.
So, it is important to understand that your reality is different from theirs. Your struggles are different from theirs. So, your success is also going to be different than theirs. This epiphany won’t dawn upon you in a day. It can take years sometimes. So, until then, you can avoid social media as much as you can, especially if you can’t stop feeling bad about yourself.7
So, keep a lookout for these habits and start amending them before they take control over you by causing unnecessary anxiety.
|↑1||Samuel Hunley. Problematic Smartphone Use and Its Relationship to Anxiety and Depression. Anxiety.org.|
|↑2||Clayton, Russell B., Glenn Leshner, and Anthony Almond. “The extended iSelf: The impact of iPhone separation on cognition, emotion, and physiology.” Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication 20, no. 2 (2015): 119-135.|
|↑3||Lieberman, Harris R., William J. Tharion, Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Karen L. Speckman, and Richard Tulley. “Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during US Navy SEAL training.” Psychopharmacology 164, no. 3 (2002): 250-261.|
|↑4||Alsene, Karen, Jürgen Deckert, Philipp Sand, and Harriet de Wit. “Association between A2a receptor gene polymorphisms and caffeine-induced anxiety.” Neuropsychopharmacology 28, no. 9 (2003): 1694.|
|↑5||Janssen, Christian P., Sandy JJ Gould, Simon YW Li, Duncan P. Brumby, and Anna L. Cox. “Integrating knowledge of multitasking and interruptions across different perspectives and research methods.” (2015): 1-5.|
|↑6||Becker, Mark W., Reem Alzahabi, and Christopher J. Hopwood. “Media multitasking is associated with symptoms of depression and social anxiety.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking16, no. 2 (2013): 132-135.|
|↑7||Is your online addiction making you anxious? Anxiety.org.|