Ways you're making your anxiety worse — and what to do about it

October 13, 2015

If you have a nagging feeling that you're making anxiety worse, you may be right. The great news is you can get better today. Here's a few common ways you may be making your anxiety worse, with  proactive approaches to nip these self-destructive behaviours in the bud.

Ways you're making your anxiety worse — and what to do about it

Minimizing positive aspects of your life

People dealing with a lot of anxiety often wave away good events, dismissing them as immaterial or happenstance. If you do well on a job interview, landing the job, you may say, "So I came up with a few barely coherent answers; I'm still a loser."

What to do about it: Simply being conscious of this sabotage is a great start. Every time you catch yourself making a disparaging comment or thought, turn it more positive. You could say, "Maybe I gave a few lucky answers during the interview, but the one about my business accounting practises was excellent. I am proud of myself."

Many people also tend to remember the bad while forgetting about the good. For example: "My day was crap. I spilled coffee on my shirt, botched my presentation and was late for dinner." For every bad thing or situation, list three positive aspects to serve as counter-balances. Chances are, things are not nearly as dire as you make them out to be.

Accepting the blame for events you could not control

A big aspect of excessive anxiety is that people worry about things they cannot control. One way of furthering this mindset is shouldering the blame when you should not. For example: "It is my fault that my coworker forgot to bring the file. I should have reminded him."

What to do about it: Say, "People are responsible for their own actions, and sometimes bad things just happen. That does not mean everything is my fault." Take a step back to see the situation more objectively. If it happened to a friend of yours — if your friend forgot to remind her coworker to bring a file — would you place the blame on your friend?

Wallowing and not exercising

It is easy to sit around and feel sorry for yourself when you feel no motivation to get up and exercise. However, physical activity makes you feel more useful and engaged. This releases endorphins that boost your mood.

What to do about it: Talk yourself through the benefits of exercising while acknowledging your feelings. For example: "I feel terrible and down on myself right now, but I know if I get up and walk for 30 minutes, I will feel better." If that is not enough, tack on a deal with yourself: "I will walk for five minutes down the street, and if I don't feel like continuing, I won't." Odds are once you're up and moving, you will keep on trucking.

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