Bad habits can make stress and anxiety so much worse.
Often times, we don’t even know we are doing them!
I used to struggle so much with stress and anxiety. I would work all day, fueled by coffee, go home, and crash with a glass or two of wine in front of the TV.
These bad habits led to even more stress and anxiety. But once I quit them, my life changed dramatically!
15 Bad Habits That Make Stress and Anxiety Worse (And How To Quit Them!)
It’s not enough just to know these bad habits. The goal here is to stop doing them!
Easier said than done, trust me, I know. But awareness is the first step, once you catch yourself doing these things, just observe how you feel during and after.
The next time, try to either shorten or stop the habit completely. And again, observe how you feel.
Do this gradually for a gentler process and enjoy feeling happy again!
This is something that I didn’t realize I was doing that made anxiety so much worse!
Ruminating is focusing on a thought or belief and thinking about it over and over again.
Sometimes you don’t even know that you’re doing it! It’s like an anxiety tape that plays in the back of your brain on repeat.
Once I catch this happening I will have to tell myself to STOP and then I’ll go do something to take my mind off it.
This one is hard! When you feel depressed or anxious all the time, it’s all too easy to isolate.
Sometimes we feel like we don’t have anything to offer to our friends and we aren’t much fun to be around.
But if they are your true friends, they will understand or at least empathize with your struggles.
Try reaching out to your friends regularly over the phone or a video call (not just texting!) for connection.
Looking at social media all day can have a lot of negative effects. It can cause a lot of comparison and FOMO (fear of missing out.)
Try setting a time limit on your social media apps and stick to it.
You can also drastically edit your feed so that it only shows positive or motivational accounts.
Mute or unfollow ANYONE that makes you feel bad about yourself. Even when it’s not their fault.
Sometimes people can trigger something inside us, and while it is still our problem, we can hide the account until we feel prepared to deal with it.
When I am inactive, I mentally don’t feel good. Things feel a lot harder.
Physical activity is a stress reliever!
You don’t have to be a fitness pro either. Gentle movement like going for a walk everyday, pilates, yoga, or dance can feel really good to implement if you take it slow.
Need some easy options? Check out this post here for my favorite free YouTube fitness videos. Even if you don’t have CFS, these are still some great options!
Stuffing Your Emotions
Oh this one is a hard one! I grew up thinking that swallowing my emotions was the “right” way to go.
It was pretty damaging to say the least! It led to anxiety, panic attacks, anger, and difficulty in relationships.
Rather than stuffing your feelings down, find healthy forms of self-expression.
This can look like learning how to set boundaries, have difficult conversations, or even just sharing your opinion. You can explore videos and read books on healthy communication to get some ideas of how this goes.
Additionally, self-expression can be dance, painting, poetry, singing, or listening to music.
Eating Your Feelings
Also known as emotional eating. Rather than expressing your feelings or desires, sometimes we just go to food.
Sometimes that feels safer and sometimes it feels easier.
Emotional eating is a very large subject and I’m definitely not an expert on it.
One of my favorite resources for emotional eating is this workbook.
If you struggle with disordered eating behaviors, please seek professional support. There are wonderfully supportive qualified therapists, psychotherapists, and anti-diet dietitians that can offer support.
Not Speaking Your Truth
Yikes! This is a tough one. If you find yourself in jobs or relationships that you are incredibly unhappy in, this can sometimes lead to feelings that trigger stress, anxiety, or panic attacks.
That type of situation can feel really overwhelming and maybe even hard to get out of.
Find someone to talk to about this like a close friend, support group, therapist, or doctor.
Ignoring Your Purpose
Do you feel an unanswered calling deep inside?
Are you passionate about helping people, but find yourself working in jobs that don’t satisfy that desire?
Think about your life purpose and how you can meet those needs.
I know that pursuing my purpose is really important to how I feel in life.
However, my purpose is not blogging or owning a business. My purpose is to help other women find freedom.
This can be by supporting a small business through my marketing work or blogging/coaching about issues I’ve struggled with or donating my free time to a local organization.
Following your purpose doesn’t always mean that you have to change your job or work. It can mean weekend or evening activities or maybe supporting your family or sending donations to a non-profit that you love.
Drinking Coffee All Day
This is definitely a bad habit to quit or reduce! Drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks all day can disrupt your sleep, which can make you feel moody or stressed.
Personally, too much caffeine makes me grumpy or anxious.
Coffee is such a common drug in most cultures so it’s widely accepted to drink it all day (plus it’s delicious!)
Need help quitting or reducing your coffee intake? Check out this post for my best tips!
People-pleasing is often a learned behavior. Maybe we saw this modeled to us growing up or we found this to be the easiest way to deal with someone quite difficult.
This may look like saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no.’ Offering to do extra for someone else when you really don’t have the time, energy, or even the desire.
It can be a very stressful way to live. By doing more for others than yourself, you just might end up feeling an internal conflict because your needs are not being met. It may even cause a bit of resentment for the person or people that you are giving to. This can even lead to passive-aggressive comments or disgruntled remarks.
It’s actually a codependent behavior pattern. Maybe deep down you feel like by doing what they want or what you think they want will gain you favor or friendship, or avoid discomfort or negative actions. You can learn all about codependency in Melody Beattie’s books. I really like this one to start with.
People-pleasing can have deeper roots (like trauma) that may be difficult to explore. If you feel that is the case, I recommend talking this over with a professional therapist or trusted mental health professional.
Not Sleeping Enough
Sometimes I feel like a good night of sleep can fix anything! While that may not be completely true, it certainly helps to fix my perspective and mood.
If I only got 6-7 hours the night before, there is a good chance that I’m going to feel tired. This may mean that I then deal with lack of focus, irritability, brain fog, or that I need a long nap!
I do my best if I get 8-9 hrs every single night.
Do you have trouble sleeping? Check out this post for help getting to sleep!
Eating Too Much Sugar
Sugar is right up there with too much caffeine!
It’s a bad habit that can lead to moodiness and fatigue. Relying on sugary treats for a pick-me-up is incredibly common if you work in an office.
Maybe it’s always someone’s birthday or there are always donuts in the office kitchen.
You can try bringing your own healthy treats as a replacement or sharing healthier options with everyone.
I have begun substituting my favorite milk chocolate for an 85% dark chocolate bar. I tend to each MUCH less of it because it’s not very sweet and it’s quite rich. Sometimes when I get a craving for something sweet I make a sugar-free protein shake or have a sugar-free yogurt.
Please stay hydrated! This is a big one. I feel really tired if I’m not well hydrated which leads to an increase in stress.
I have a 32 oz. water bottle that I carry everywhere with me. I try and drink at least 3 of those per day and I track it in my planner.
I like this Nalgene water bottle because it’s light and I can easily clean it in the dishwasher.
Being A Control Freak
This is a big contributor to stress and anxiety.
Most people who feel like they need to be in control are really very fearful. They may not even realize it!
They tend to worry that something bad will happen without them being in control. This may stem from a difficult childhood or growing up in a somewhat controlling or rigid environment.
This is actually one of the BIGGEST shifts in reducing anxiety for me. There were so many times I felt on the verge of a panic attack and I would mentally practice releasing control and I felt instant relaxation.
Maybe I still wasn’t comfortable or happy in the situation, but releasing control helped me so much.
Important note – I’ve found releasing control to be much easier when I view it spiritually. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, but giving up control to a higher power (God, the Universe, Angels, as an energetic shift, etc.) is incredibly stress-reducing!
Skipping meals or engaging in restrictive dieting can be stressful. Yes, this can even include “elimination” diets or 30-day challenges or anything that has strict rules around what you are allowed to eat.
Note – this is NOT about an allergy or something like Celiac disease! This is about engaging in eating behaviors that are stressful to your mind that you don’t physically NEED to do.
I went through a couple of phases in my life where I worried about possible food sensitivities and tried to be really strict with my calories.
This is incredibly common too, which makes me sad. I’ve definitely modified my nutrition over the years in healthy ways that make me feel good. Instead of skipping meals or reducing portions to teeny tiny sizes or eliminating tons of food groups, I now focus on eating lots of vegetables and a good amount of protein because this makes me feel good. It’s a big mindset shift and it’s one that I think has served me well.
I’m going to add this warning again – if you struggle with disordered eating behaviors, please seek professional support. There are wonderfully supportive qualified therapists, psychotherapists, and anti-diet dietitians that can offer support.
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