Change These Habits that Cause Anxiety, Worsen Anxiety

We all have habits that cause anxiety or worsen existing anxiety. This does not mean that we're intentionally causing our own anxiety, not at all. No one is to blame for their anxiety. Habits are merely things we do (or don't do) because we're so used to doing them, we don't even think about them. Occasionally operating on autopilot and inadvertently doing things that worsen or cause anxiety is actually pretty empowering. When you learn about habits that worsen your anxiety, you can actively stop those actions and replace them with more mentally healthy ones. 

The following actions have become such an integral way of modern life that rarely do we give them a second thought. When something is second nature, it's hard to think of it as something that causes or makes anxiety worse. Are any of these lifestyle habits part of your life? If so, how much do they contribute to your anxiety, tension, and stress?

Stop These Habits that Cause Anxiety 

  • Hitting snooze -- This ritual can throw off your brain before you even get out of bed, in part because it disrupts the natural sleep-wake cycle, impacting your energy, thoughts, and emotions. 
  • Perpetually running late -- This can start with the snooze game, or it can start at any point in the day. Once you start running late, it's hard to catch up. Being in a constant rush increases stress hormones and anxiety.
  • Being your phone's primary accessory -- Being inseparable from our phones is making anxiety worse. Whether we're actively using it or picking it up to check messages every 30 seconds, we're not present in our real world plus we remain agitated, always checking and doing something, rather than relaxed.
  • Sitting too long -- Whether it's at work or on the couch, this contributes to anxiety courtesy of a lack of exercise or even simple whole-body movements. 
  • Letting obnoxious, little tasks pile up -- Tedious things like going through the mail, organizing your living space, and other things tempting us to procrastinate make physical and mental clutter that can lead to anxious tension and agitation.
  • Staying up late, mesmerized by the glow emanating from electronic screens -- This negatively affects brainwaves, quality sleep, and can cause anxiety. It also keeps the snooze game going in a sleep double-whammy.

Try turning off autopilot and noticing habits that are worsening or causing anxiety. When you know what is contributing to anxiety, you can replace it with actions that reduce anxiety.

Another anxiety-causing habit involves what we put into our bodies. I invite you to tune into the video to learn more about it. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, August 29). Change These Habits that Cause Anxiety, Worsen Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
September, 1 2019 at 10:50 pm

I think this is such a great little wake-up call/check-in with life kind of read. We have to be aware of the daily actions that become habitual and only end up enhancing our stress and anxiety. I love that you included things like hitting snooze and being your phone's "primary accessory" -- two thing most of us don't think twice about and do so frequently! Boundaries apply to the self as well and this is a prime example of how to use some.

September, 3 2019 at 5:59 pm

Hi Lizanne,
So often, if I notice my own anxiety bubbling to the surface, I check in with myself and usually discover some regular daily habit that has been causing problems completely under my radar. I find it enlightening and encouraging when this happens, because there's a fix -- one that I can take care of.

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