Did you know that you could actually be making your anxiety worse with things you may be doing? There are some habits that we have at some point in our life that can take a toll on our mental health and cause anxiety to worsen. Let’s take a look at a few of the things you may be doing that could actually be increasing your anxiety:
1. Lack of Sleep
There are times when we all get less sleep than we should be getting. Maybe you are a new parent (or even just a parent in general), maybe you have a job that makes you work hours that are difficult for getting optimal sleep, maybe you struggle to sleep because of your anxiety, or there could be other things that are contributing to your lack of sleep. Whatever the reason, a lack of sleep can cause you to not be as well-prepared for stressful situations as you would have been had you been well rested. It is recommended that the average adult gets between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night; figure out what your body needs and try to give it that amount.
2. Watching and Reading Negative Media
With technology at our fingertips, we can get constant updates on the latest-breaking bad news story but that comes at a cost. When we are watching or reading something that is filled with violence, negative language, or just stuff that you do not like, it can make us feel uneasy. Monitor how much you are taking in negative news and stories and adjust if you need to.
3. Substance use
Alcohol and drug use may feel like they are helping you calm down and relax, but they can be detrimental to your mental health. The “buzz” or “high” you get from using the substance does not last long which pushes you to use more to continue that “high.” After the “high” is gone you are usually left feeling increased anxiety, increased depression, and an urge to use more. Drugs and alcohol are only temporary fixes to mental health problems and can lead to additional problems if you are not careful. If you are using substances to manage your mental health symptoms, please seek help from your doctor or counselor.
There are many more habits that we engage in that can cause an increased in mental health symptoms. Some others include rushing, overworking, overthinking, overspending/financial stress, negative thinking, assuming, spending too much time inside, anticipation/getting overly excited, spending too much time alone, and procrastination. Take some time today to take a look at your life and see if there are some habits that you have that may be taking a toll on your mental health. If you are experiencing symptoms of mental health concerns, please talk to your doctor or a counselor.
Alysha is a licensed counselor at Arbor Counseling. She provides mental health services for people of all ages, families, and couples. Alysha specializes in working with adolescents and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She is also a Ph.D. student and professor.