12 Tiny Habits That Will Quadruple Your Anxiety

Don't make your anxiety worse than it already is.

Habits that quadruple anxiety, man listening to Coldplay Matthew Nichols1 | Shutterstock, Grzegorz | Canva

I suffered from anxiety (hard) and still have my moments. That’s fine. Managing anxiety isn’t about never having anxiety; it’s about making peace with reality. Ultimately, anxiety is a label we’ve made up to describe the physical experience of stressful thoughts. It needn’t be a big deal, but we make it so. Here are ways you may be inadvertently making your anxiety worse.

Here are 13 subtle habits that quadruple your anxiety:

1. Making ‘anxiety’ your identity

You’re not an "anxious person." You just have occasional anxious feelings. Your identity as an anxious person is cementing your suffering for life. Most people use anxiety as an excuse for their failures. You’re stronger than that.


2. Taking every single one of your thoughts seriously

Here’s the reality of being human: we will continually have all kinds of thoughts, negative and positive, arising in us from now until the day we die. We can’t do anything about this. We can, however, let go of the need to latch onto every thought that floats up. We hook in because we buy into the seriousness of thoughts. Don’t. Let them go, and you will be free.

RELATED: If You Want To Be Truly Free And Happy, You Must Banish These 4 Thoughts

3. Quick, jumpy physical movements

The relief you are looking for starts in the body. Shake it out, but then slow down, walk like Daniel Craig's James Bond, drop your shoulders, and breathe shallow and slow. Your mind will follow, and your anxiety will fade.


4. Holding your breath

We’ve developed a survival trick to breath-hold when we’re scared. And for a good reason. We didn’t want big saber-toothed bigfoot sensing us as it sloped past. But we still do it, often unnecessarily. If you feel nervous, don’t stop breathing. Let it flow in and out of you like you’re slowly inflating a kiddy pool. The breath is your tool for calm. Holding it will harden and silence you, but it will not relax you.

RELATED: How To Calm Anxiety Instantly With One Simple Breathing Exercise

5. Self-obsessing

Many of us inadvertently make our anxiety worse because we turn our attention to ourselves and our problems. "I need to fix this," you say. "I have a problem here that requires healing and work." No. Your thinking you need fixing will keep you unnecessarily anxious. Focus on your work, exercise, and help (and calm) other people, and the suffering will diminish.


6. Avoiding mistakes

If we’re overly concerned with not making mistakes, we get nervous. Why? Because avoidance is pressure, and pressure in the body is felt as anxiety. Allow yourself to lose; to fail; to look bad. You must. Take this in small steps. The cure to your pain is your willingness to look ‘stupid.’

7. Attempting to argue with people who write Medium lists about anxiety

8. Watching the news

You know they make money from your anxiety, right? There will always be bad news. You don’t need to be continually informed. The important stuff will reach you. Watching this stuff programs you to seek out what’s wrong in the world — a habit that transfers into real life. That can’t be healthy.

9. Believing anxiety is externally driven

I was an anxious wreck in my late teens and twenties because I believed the lie that other people and my perceived failures had the power to lower my self-esteem. Nope. It’s all in the mind. Other people can do whatever they like. My stress is only a guarantee when I take stuff personally and worry.

RELATED: Man Shares The 2 Ways His Therapist Taught Him To Turn Anxiety Into Confidence


10. Tightening your belly

Years of evolution taught us that safety in the face of danger is to tighten our bellies. We still do it when there is merely a perceived threat. The funny thing is, when we tighten our stomachs, we make ourselves more anxious. Let go of this strain. Breathe into your bellies and your groin and allow the tension to shudder out of you. Your anxiety, too, will fade.

11. Drinking caffeine

Caffeine in moderation, please. If you’re frequently anxious and barely sleep, it’s an absolute no-no. Caffeine is a plant poison that makes you release stress hormones. But it’s also awesome as all heck in small doses. So you decide. But if you’re on four cups and wondering why you’re anxious, consider the source.

12. Needing certainty

I always struggled with the icky feeling of not knowing what was coming next. I needed control or I’d feel out of control and awkward. I’d compensate by planning my words and actions. Welcome to Anxiety-Central. The most relaxed people are OK with not knowing, they hold fewer plans in their minds, and they have quiet faith in receiving what they need when they need it. You’re free when you reconnect with this inner guidance system. Listen. Be receptive. It’s there.


RELATED: 7 Dangerous Anxiety Myths Keeping You Anxious

Alex Mathers is a writer and coach who helps you build a money-making personal brand with your knowledge and skills while staying mentally resilient.