12 Common Habits That Make Your Anxiety Worse

Let’s talk about 12 mindless habits that cause anxiety

If you’re here to read about 12 habits that make anxiety worse, keep reading!

We’re talking about something that affects many of us: anxiety.

Yes, it might be difficult to understand whether you have occasional anxious emotions or a full-blown generalized anxiety disorder.

But did you know that there are several things that always make anxiety worse? That’s right!

As someone who has experienced anxiety, I understand firsthand how certain practices can increase anxious feelings and create a vicious cycle of tension and concern.

That’s why I’d like to share these 12 common habits that make anxiety worse with you today in the hopes that we can all work together to break these patterns and find more peace in our lives.

Without further ado, let’s talk about the worst habits for anxiety.

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A list of things that make people anxious, AKA habits that make anxiety worse

1. Avoiding social situations or isolating oneself

I can tell you that avoiding social interactions and isolating yourself can be significant things that cause anxiety.

While it may appear counterintuitive, withdrawing from social connections can aggravate anxiety and depression.

When we isolate ourselves, we miss out on the benefits of social support, such as feeling understood, respected, and connected to others. This can make us feel isolated and unsupported.

I used to suffer from social anxiety and avoided social situations as a coping mechanism. The more I isolated myself, though, the more anxious and lonely I became.

To feel better, I understood I needed to get out of my comfort zone and connect with others.

If you tend to avoid social settings, try to push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone. This could be going to a social event, calling a friend, or simply striking up a discussion with a stranger.

While being social may feel awkward at first, the more you practice it, the easier it will become.

I found a lot of help from this shyness and social anxiety workbook, which helped me stop avoiding social situations.

Remember that it’s fine to go at your own pace and to create boundaries that are comfortable for you.

You might also like: How to actually improve your conversations in social situations

2. Overthinking and ruminating on negative thoughts

Overthinking and ruminating on unpleasant thoughts are among the bad mental habits that many of us are familiar with.

I can assure you that these habits are a big source of nervous thoughts and sensations.

We become caught up in a cycle of worrying and obsessing about upcoming scenarios and outcomes when we overthink.

Even if nothing has happened, this can leave us feeling anxious and tense.

Ruminating on negative ideas entails rethinking past events and concentrating on mistakes or regrets.

I’ve discovered that overthinking and rumination frequently go hand in hand for me.

I’m prone to getting caught up in a cycle of worrying about the future and recapping previous mistakes, which leaves me exhausted and anxious.

If you battle with overthinking and ruminating, try developing techniques to regulate these behaviors.

Meditation and deep breathing are two mindfulness activities that can help you stay present and focused in the present moment.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help you challenge negative thought habits and build more positive mental patterns.

You can explore CBT techniques in books like The CBT Workbook to help you on your journey.

You might also like: How to really break out of a headspace once and for all

3. Using alcohol or drugs to cope with anxiety

This is one of the most crucial of these 12 habits that make anxiety worse.

Using alcohol or drugs to cope with anxiety is a bad habit that can be exceedingly destructive in the long run.

While it may appear to be a quick fix for temporarily alleviating anxiety symptoms, it can actually worsen the situation.

For example, alcohol is a depressant that can worsen moods and increase anxiety and despair.

Likewise, medications can have unexpected and potentially harmful effects on your mind and body.

In addition to the physical risks, using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism can also lead to a cycle of dependence and addiction.

Instead of addressing the root causes of anxiety and developing healthy coping mechanisms, we may become reliant on these substances to manage our emotions.

If you struggle with using alcohol or drugs to cope with anxiety, it’s critical that you seek professional help.

See a therapist or counselor, join a support group, or enroll in a substance misuse treatment program.

While fighting my anxiety, I found a lot of help from this anxiety and phobia workbook that helped me take control of my life.

It’s possible to overcome this habit and find healthy ways to manage anxiety with the correct help and resources.

Exercise, mindfulness practices, and indulging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy are some alternate coping mechanisms for anxiety.

You might also like: Toxic habits to quit this year to experience personal growth
beautiful flowers to ease anxiety

4. Lack of regular exercise or physical activity

A lack of regular exercise or physical activity is a bad habit that can lead to anxiety and tension.

When we don’t move our bodies on a regular basis, we may feel sluggish and low on energy. This makes it difficult to control anxiety symptoms.

As someone who has dealt with anxiety, I can confirm that regular exercise has been a game-changer for me.

A simple walk or yoga session helps me feel more grounded and centered in my body. Exercise is also known to release endorphins.

Endorphins are natural mood boosters that can help with anxiety and depression symptoms.

If you have trouble fitting regular exercise into your schedule, start simple and gradually progress to more intensive workouts.

This can include going for a daily walk around the block, signing up for a beginner’s yoga class, or joining a low-impact fitness club.

The idea is to discover activities that you enjoy and that you believe will last.

When it comes to adding exercise to your routine, consistency is crucial, so try to create reasonable goals and stick to them as much as possible.

You might also like: Good habits that will improve your mental health this year

5. Consuming too much caffeine or sugar

Too much caffeine or sugar is also a bad habit that can aggravate anxiety symptoms. Caffeine and sugar may provide a momentary energy boost.

However, they can also cause crashes and mood swings, which can worsen anxiety symptoms.

I’ve discovered that if I consume too much caffeine or sweets, I become nervous and tense. Caffeine is a stimulant that can create uneasiness and agitation as well as raise your heart rate.

Sugar can induce blood sugar spikes and drops, which can alter mood and energy levels.

If you tend to consume too much coffee or sugar, gradually cut back and find healthier alternatives.

This could include switching to decaf coffee or herbal tea, substituting fruits and vegetables for sugary snacks, or experimenting with alternative sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

It’s also important to consider how these substances affect you personally.

Because everyone’s tolerance to caffeine and sugar varies, it’s crucial to pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust accordingly.

6. Poor sleep habits or lack of sleep

Poor sleep habits or a lack of sleep are among the things that can significantly trigger anxiety.

We may become irritated, worried, and unable to cope with challenges in our daily lives if we don’t get enough sleep.

So yes, prioritizing sleep is extremely important. In the face of anxiety triggers, getting adequate, healthy sleep can help us feel more grounded, focused, and resilient.

If you suffer from poor sleeping habits or a lack of sleep, there are a few things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene.

Create a consistent sleep schedule, avoid electronics and stimulating activities before bed, and develop a peaceful bedtime routine.

It’s also important to develop a comfortable sleeping environment that promotes peaceful sleep.

Invest in a comfy mattress and pillow, regulate the temperature in your bedroom, and minimize noise and light interruptions.

You might also like: The best hacks that I use to fall asleep faster every day
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7. Procrastinating and avoiding tasks that trigger anxiety

We may feel a momentary sense of comfort when we avoid chores that make us uneasy.

However, we’re eventually reinforcing the perception that those jobs are too overwhelming or terrifying to handle.

I understand how easy it is to put off chores that make me worried or uncomfortable.

I’ve learned that putting off those tasks only makes them seem more daunting and difficult to complete in the long run.

If you procrastinate or avoid jobs that cause anxiety, there are a few things you can do to break the cycle.

Break down major chores into smaller, more manageable parts, set realistic goals and deadlines for yourself, and seek support or accountability from friends, family, or a therapist.

Consider exploring strategies and techniques from books like Eat That Frog to help you manage this habit.

It’s also crucial to understand that anxiety is a normal and natural reaction to stress. Feeling worried doesn’t always indicate that there’s something wrong with us.

We can learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings and take action despite them by practicing self-compassion and accepting our anxiety.

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8. Poor time management and feeling overwhelmed

Many people experience anxiety as a result of poor time management and feeling overwhelmed.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, agitated, and anxious when we have too many chores to perform and not enough time to complete them.

I do know how irritating it can be to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

I’ve discovered that there are practical steps we can take to better manage our time and reduce feelings of overwhelm.

Prioritizing tasks based on their relevance and urgency is one strategy that can be useful.

This can include making a to-do list and classifying things as “high-priority,” “medium-priority,” or “low-priority.”

We can reduce feelings of overload and make consistent progress toward our goals by focusing on the most important and urgent tasks first.

Another approach is to divide large tasks into smaller, more achievable steps. This can help us feel less overwhelmed by tasks and more in control of our time and energy.

It’s also crucial to create reasonable goals and timelines for ourselves.

Setting overly ambitious goals or unreasonable deadlines may set us up for failure, making us feel even more worried and stressed.

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9. Negative self-talk or low self-esteem

It’s easy to feel worried and uneasy about our abilities and worth when we continuously criticize ourselves or assume we’re not good enough.

I am very aware of how harmful all of these 12 habits that make anxiety worse may be.

I’ve learned that we have the ability to change our self-talk and develop a more positive and self-affirming mindset.

Self-compassion is one strategy that you can benefit from. This entails treating ourselves with the same compassion, concern, and understanding that we would extend to a good friend in need.

If you want to practice more self-compassion, I suggest you try this awesome self-love workbook that will help you appreciate yourself more every day.

Another approach is to concentrate on our accomplishments and strengths. This could be making a gratitude list or a list of our personal accomplishments and victories.

We can counteract negative self-talk and develop a more positive self-image by concentrating on our strengths and successes.

We should also seek help from others. Reaching out to friends, relatives, or a therapist can bring support, validation, and a new perspective.

We’ll feel less alone in our challenges and more supported in our efforts to overcome them by connecting with others who care about us.

You might also like: These practical tips will help you improve your confidence
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10. Avoiding seeking help or support from others

We can feel overwhelmed and unsupported when we separate ourselves and try to handle things on our own. This can worsen feelings of worry and stress.

Seeking help can take various forms, ranging from talking to a trusted friend or family member to seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

The stigma associated with mental health disorders is one reason why some people resist seeking help. Seeking help demonstrates strength, not weakness.

Seeking treatment for our mental health is a vital step in taking care of ourselves, just as we would seek medical help if we were physically ill.

This mindful self-compassion workbook will help you support yourself and thrive while looking for help.

Another reason some people resist seeking help is a fear of being judged or exposed.

However, it’s important to remember that many people suffer from anxiety and other mental health issues. Seeking help is a common and normal step on the path to healing and recovery.

If you’re battling with anxiety and find it tough to reach out for help, I suggest you start small.

This could include speaking with a trusted friend or family member, contacting a mental health helpline, or seeking help from an online community.

You might also like: 25 more life lessons that I've learned during the past 25 years

11. Engaging in perfectionism and setting unrealistic expectations

Perfectionism and establishing unreasonable expectations are also significant habits that cause anxiety.

When we establish unreasonable expectations for ourselves, we can feel constant pressure to perform at a level that is frequently hard to achieve.

This leads to feelings of worry, tension, and overload. I noticed last year how detrimental it can be to our mental health.

When we strive for perfection all the time, it can make us feel like we’re never good enough. This leads to negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy.

Self-compassion is a good way to overcome perfectionism.

Instead of being hard on ourselves and creating impossible demands for ourselves, we can learn to be kind and understanding of ourselves, just as we would a hurting friend.

Setting more realistic expectations for ourselves is another way to overcome perfectionism.

This could include cutting larger goals down into smaller, more doable activities or setting more realistic deadlines for ourselves.

Setting more realistic expectations allows us to put less pressure on ourselves and feel more accomplished when we achieve our goals.

Keep in mind that making mistakes is an expected part of the learning process. When we make mistakes, we can learn from them and use them to grow and improve ourselves.

You might also like: Romanticize your life without trying to achieve perfectionism

12. Focusing too much on the future and worrying about what might happen

It’s normal to plan for the future and think about what might happen. However, when we constantly worry about what might happen, we can become tortured by anxiety and uncertainty.

It’s quite easy to get caught up in a cycle of stress and anticipation.

We can spend hours worrying about prospective situations and what-ifs, but the truth is that most of what we worry about never happens.

Mindfulness and focusing on the present moment are two techniques for breaking this behavior.

Mindfulness entails paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgment. It can help us create a deeper sense of peace and clarity.

This relaxation and stress reduction workbook was a life-changer for me. I learned really useful stress-reduction strategies from there.

Another way to break this habit is to confront our worried thoughts with evidence-based reasoning.

For example, if we’re worried about an upcoming presentation at work, we can ask ourselves, “What evidence do I have that this presentation will go badly?”

We can start to challenge the worrying beliefs that are causing us distress by assessing our thoughts and feelings logically and rationally.

We can not predict the future. Uncertainty is a part of life.

Instead of worrying about what might happen, we can concentrate on what we can control right now and take small steps toward our goals.

You might also like: Learn all about rewiring your brain and stopping self-sabotage
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a pin for a blog post about 12 habits that make anxiety worse

FAQ: What triggers anxiety the most?

As someone who has dealt with anxiety, I can tell you that the triggers differ widely between people.

However, there are some common characteristics that lead to anxiety in many people. Here are a few triggers that I’ve found to be especially true:


When we’re confronted with events that are unclear or uncertain, we can experience discomfort and worry.

This could be anything from a job interview to a health issue. Being calm can be tough if we don’t know what to expect.


Overthinking and ruminating on negative ideas can be major triggers for many people who suffer from anxiety. It can be difficult to break out of a pattern of worrying and stress and feel peaceful.

Social situations

Whether at a large or small gathering, social circumstances can be stressful for many people.

The fear of being judged, feeling out of place, or simply being overwhelmed by the energy of a group can cause anxiety levels to rise.


Traumatic experiences, such as abuse or a natural disaster, can have long-term effects on our mental health. These kinds of occurrences can lead to PTSD and other anxiety problems.


While not a trigger in the same way as the other items on this list, genetics can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders.

You may be more susceptible to anxiety if you have a family history of anxiety or other mental health concerns

Are you guilty of any of these 12 habits that make anxiety worse?

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