Don't Ignore These 10 Things That Make Anxiety Worse!

When your feelings of anxiety become intense, it's only natural to want to rid them from your system as quickly as possible. This is particularly true if your anxious thoughts are making it impossible to attend to activities of daily living; such as focusing on work or family. Heck, anxiety can even interfere with your ability to talk coherently.

If you struggle with an anxiety disorder, you likely know that intense feelings often come in wavessometimes from out of the blue. When theanxiety waveis at its full force, it's easy to reach for anything that promises instant relief. But can some behaviors paradoxically make the anxiety wave stronger?

In my experience as an anxiety therapist in Chicago, there are 10 specific things people do that unintentionally make their anxiety worse. Through the lens of self-compassion, I encourage you to review these behaviors as a way of gaining greater insight into your own relationship with this disorder.

And so what follows is a basic rundown of 10 anxiety worsening behaviors that you really can't ignore. Read them all in order to fully absorb their collective meaning. Avoid the temptation of judging yourself as part of this exercise.

Let's jump right in!

1. Denial

When you pretend anxiety isn't part of your life, you engage in the cognitive distortion known as denial. This can have the unintentional effect of amplifying what you are feeling.

People with OCD and specific phobias particularly need to be mindful of this point.

2. Avoidance

While it may seem logical at first to avoid things that scare you, engaging inhidingbehaviors can actually make things worse. Those fears also have a way of bleeding into other areas.

Example: If you fear driving on the highway and only use side-roads, you may develop a fear of driving on fast, crowded streets. That's the paradoxical cruelty of an anxiety disorder. It is for this reason it is better to embrace our mental health issues rather than deny their existence.

3. Fishing for Reassurances

I'm not fat, am I?” is a question you may ask someone in an effort to gain reassurance. The premise of the question, however, suggests that you already think you are fat.

The reassurance you are looking to receive only reinforces your core, irrational belief. This in turn can make things worse by contributing to toxic thinking.

4. Magical Thinking

If you are hoping for someone to pull out a magic wand and take away your anxiety, you may be waiting a long time. If you have an anxiety disorder, you were wired that way. Meantime, while you are waiting for that wand to appear, your anxiety is growing stronger.

Magical thinking is part of a larger family of cognitive distortions that can negatively impact anxiety. There's no such thing as a “quick fixorinstant cure”. Instead, think amelioration and reduction. Don't spend one minute feeling ashamed of having an anxiety disorder either. Shame is one of anxiety's most powerful friends.

5. Downing Herbal Drinks

Suredrinking something that is soothing and relaxing can help to calm your nerves but don't rely on them exclusively. You may be making your anxiety worse by getting hooked on a temporary crutch.

If you do choose an herbal drink, pick something non-caffeinated and sip on it as opposed to chugging it. Make sure you drink teas that are known to help your particular anxiety disorder.

Think of herbal teas and other natural remedies for anxiety as part of a larger strategy for anxiety management.