8 Factors That Can Make Your Anxiety Worse
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
If you are one of the many people who believe that specific situations trigger anxiety, you are not alone. You might be petrified to speak in front of a large group of people, or you may be terrified of flying. The truth of the matter is that our thoughts create us — it is not these specific situations that make us anxious, it is our thought process associated with them. Changing the way we think about stressful situations is critical to beating anxiety, but there are also several lifestyle factors that can exacerbate the symptoms that are associated with anxiety. Some of the factors we review in today’s post may surprise you and others may not. Let’s check them out.
Conditions That Could Exacerbate Anxiety Symptoms
It can be easy to skip a meal or two when you are rushing from one appointment to the next or your day is packed full of meetings. What’s more, you may not feel like you have much of an appetite if you feel anxious or stressed. Skipping meals and irregular eating patterns can cause your blood sugar to plummet, and this can make you feel more irritable and anxious. Even eating a granola bar or another type of healthy on-the-go food can make a big difference.
The food you eat provides your body with the fuel it needs to sustain itself throughout the day. If you have a food sensitivity and you don’t know it, this can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Health concerns alone are enough to exacerbate anxiety levels, but there is also evidence that suggests food sensitivities directly impact our mood by impacting hormones and chemicals in our brains that regulate our ability to control anxiety.
We all know that staying hydrated is essential to our physical health, but did you know that it is also critical to our mental health? Approximately 85 percent of brain tissue is water. When you become dehydrated, your body will pull water from your bones, muscles, and brain to provide it with the hydration it needs for critical physiological and psychological functions. Dehydration can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, but thankfully, this factor is an easy one to remedy.
Nutritional deficiencies can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety in the same way that dehydration can affect physiological and psychological function. There are many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that play an important role in nervous system function, which directly impacts our mood. B vitamins, for example, have a significant impact on mood, as does magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Providing your body with all of the vitamins and minerals it needs can go a long way in helping to calm your mind.
Many people are surprised to learn that caffeine can play a role in anxiety attacks. However, if you are someone who frequently suffers from bouts of anxiety, then you may want to examine how many caffeinated beverages you are drinking in a day. A little bit of caffeine can be useful for improving focus, but too much can increase some of the most common anxiety symptoms, including a racing heart, racing thoughts, sweating, and negative thoughts.
Drugs or alcohol
Many people use drugs and alcohol as a means of “winding down” when they are feeling particularly anxious. Unfortunately, this can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and this cyclical pattern can lead to instances of addiction and substance abuse. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), roughly 20 percent of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder also have a substance abuse disorder. Drugs and alcohol should be avoided for many reasons, and it can help you calm your anxiety.
Getting older is a wonderful thing — you gain insight and wisdom from your life experiences that you only wish you would have had in your younger years. However, with age often comes a variety of stresses, both good and bad, which can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. While you can’t do anything about getting older, you can develop a skill set that can reframe your responses to these stressors.
Our sense of smell is closely linked to our memories, and oftentimes, memories can often trigger an unconscious reaction to a situation that brings about a cascade of negative thoughts. Sounds and sights can do the same thing. Unconscious cues are some of the most tricky to identify, especially on your own. With assistance, however, you can learn to identify these triggers and put negative thoughts in their place, reducing your anxiety response.
Always keep in mind...
Step number one in dealing with a mental health issue is reaching out for professional help (Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Therapist, etc.).
The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only.
It is not for diagnosing, prognosticating, treatment or prescribing of mental health conditions.
For the treatment of any mental health condition or disease, or drug therapy, please consult your physician or other healthcare providers.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis please call 911 or visit your hospital immediately.
When you’re in a place in your life where you can make positive changes, the techniques Jeremy delivers on this website, in his presentations and in his books may help.