11 Bad Habits that Make Your Anxiety Worse

Living with an anxiety disorder is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as it is on your worst days everyday. Some of the habits I’ll be talking about can even lead to those awful panic attacks and increase your anxiety to the point where you become highly unproductive.

When living with an anxiety disorder, you’re going to have good days and bad days. It’s just a fact that I have had to learn to deal with – having severe generalized anxiety disorder. These are some bad habits you should drop, as they will likely worsen your anxiety:

1. Negative Self-Talk

This one can be a real bitch to fight against. You know that little voice in your head that tells you things like, “you should be doing better”, “you could look better”, or “you could’ve handled that better.” That is negative self-talk and it can take your anxiety level from medium all the way to overpowering.

We are surrounded by images of unrealistic beauty and hear success stories about others that can leave us asking – “why can’t that be me?”

Instead of negative self-talk, try to think of things you’re grateful for and avoid focusing on flaws or negative past situations.

2. Too Much Screen Time

Smartphones can be a huge anxiety trigger – and they’re one that a lot of people don’t necessarily consider. Spending hours on Facebook or other social media can lead to that negative self-talk. Remember, not everything you see on social media is real. Few people are willing to put their bad days on blast.

Anxiety can increase when you’re constantly comparing your life to the lives’ of others. Also, if you spend time googling symptoms, or reading negative stories – this can cause an enormous spike to your anxiety.

Try to limit your screen time, especially on sites that you know increase your anxiety.

3. Being Sedentary

You HAVE to remain active to stay healthy. Remaining seated most of the time will increase your anxiety. Stay active, get moving, have hobbies, keep a to-do list every single day!

Sitting around, doing almost nothing, will most certainly increase your anxiety. Grab yourself a Fitbit and stay on top of your step count. Make sure that you’re moving and doing activities that aren’t just watching TV or scrolling through your phone.

Exercise truly will do wonders for your mental health. Get started.

4. Procrastination

Take control of your to-do list. Stay on top of bills and appointments. If you keep putting things off, especially things like paying bills – your anxiety will worsen.

Finances, for many people, can be a huge anxiety trigger. Automated bill pay is a great way to let at least that part of financial anxiety dissipate.

Here is a list of things you should ALWAYS be on top of to make sure you’re not worsening your anxiety:

  • Bills
  • Appointments (Doctors, Dentists, Eye Doctors, Therapists and so on).
  • Organization
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry

5. Remaining Inside ALL DAY

You have to get out and about. Staying indoors all day contributes to anxiety. For those of you who suffer from social anxiety, try to get outside where there are few or  no people at least twice a day. We all need fresh air, sunlight and a little bit of nature to keep our mental health in top-notch condition.

6. Obsessing

I’m pretty guilty of doing this. Something relatively small may occur, (a conversation you wish would’ve went another way, a comment someone made or just a poor choice you may have made), and you don’t allow it to leave your mind.

One of the biggest things I’ve had to learn to do when coping with my anxiety disorder is to let things go that cannot be changed. Keep the past in the past. Obsessing about it WILL NOT HELP.

Learn to let things go that you can’t do anything about. And, well, if you’re obsessing about something that can be changed – MAKE THE CHANGE however you can. Obsessive thinking will really crank your anxiety up.

7. Playing the Pity Card

I know far too many people who rely heavily on the need to be pitied by others and always expecting help. This isn’t healthy. You should not feel pity for yourself, let alone wish for others to pity you. Just because you have an anxiety disorder DOES NOT mean that you are weak.

There are many ways to manage an anxiety disorder on your own without expecting handouts or pity. The pity of others, in the long run, will make you feel worse.

You are stronger than you know. You aren’t weak. You just have to try a little harder than other people. Take the pity card out of your deck and mentally burn it. Seriously – it’s no good to you or anyone else.

8. Poor Diet

Eating unhealthy food will make you feel crappy, physically and mentally. Try to eat healthier. Think protein, fiber and always take your vitamins, (especially a daily multivitamin).

Skipping meals can also make anxiety worse. Try to keep your diet healthy, ensuring that you’re getting all the proper nutrients. Make sure you’re eating enough calories.

Avoid over processed foods. Limit Caffeine. Stay hydrated!

9. Avoiding Social Situations

As humans, we need social interaction. It’s just how we’re wired. Personally, I don’t have social anxiety but I know people who do. Remember, isolation is an enemy of an anxiety disorder! You need to get out and around people. You need to have conversations.

Isolating yourself will worsen your anxiety.

10. Self Medicating

Don’t take a bunch of drugs you aren’t prescribed. They will mess with your brain chemistry and made your anxiety a whole hell of a lot worse.  With an anxiety disorder, you want to keep your mood level and experimenting with drugs and over-doing alcohol will make it worse.

11. Not Prioritizing Sleep

In addition to having severe generalized anxiety disorder, I also have insomnia. Ugh, it’s the worst. When you don’t get enough sleep, your anxiety will likely be worse the next day. (Something I’ve learned the hard way more than once).

Sleep needs to be a priority! Try different methods to ensure you’re getting at least 8 hours a night.

You’ve Got This:

Living with an anxiety disorder doesn’t mean that you’re broken. It just means you have to be more diligent with the ways you spend your time. Find YOUR best coping mechanisms and avoid habits that worsen your anxiety.

Once you know your do’s and don’ts – you’ll be surprised at how normal your life will feel & become. Sure, there will still be good days and bad days. I recently had a really bad day and you know what, I made it through it. You can too.

Eliminate bad habits and always keep trying new things to help yourself. You’ve got this.


Krissy October is a professional freelance writer, aspiring novelist and knowledge nerd who is dedicated to consistent self-improvement and finding clever ways to solve everyday problems.

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