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9 Things That Feed Anxiety - Anxiety is a common experience that  affects millions of people worldwide. Be it stress from work, personal relationships, or just the general state of the world; sometimes it can feel like your worries are taking over your life.


But have you ever stopped to consider what’s actually feeding that anxiety and making it worse? Today, we go over some of the common factors that you might be overlooking.  

Here are 9 things that contribute to anxiety  - and some practical tips for managing them.

1. Overcommitment

We live in a time when society seems to value constant productivity and the pursuit of success above all else. And while this can be motivating for some, it can also contribute to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

When you take on too many tasks or responsibilities, inevitably you end up feeling like you don’t have enough time or resources to handle everything.

If you have too much on your plate, you may worry that you won’t be able to complete  everything to the best of your ability. This makes it even harder to focus on the task at hand.

Plus, when you feel like you’re constantly playing catch-up and don’t have a handle on everything that’s going on, it can create a sense of overwhelm and even more anxiety about the future.

That’s why it’s critical to find a balance between being productive and taking care of yourself. This might mean delegating responsibilities, setting boundaries, or learning to say NO to additional commitments.

2. Negative Self-Talk and Self-Criticism

When you constantly tell yourself negative things, it can create a cycle of self-doubt and worry. Negative self-talk can take many forms, from harshly criticizing yourself for mistakes, to constantly doubting your abilities and worth.

This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety about your ability to handle challenges and to accomplish your goals. 

To address this issue, you need to learn to  recognize when you’re engaging in these thought patterns, and then begin to challenge and replace them with more positive and affirming ones. 

Doing this will drastically reduce your anxiety, making you feel more confident and capable in your daily life.

3. Overstimulation

Exposure to too much sensory input like loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, or crowded spaces, can be overwhelming for your nervous system and make anxiety worse. 

Similarly, being constantly bombarded with  information from various sources such as social media, news outlets and emails, can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as a sense of being unable to switch off or disconnect.

And while stimulants like caffeine, can give you a boost of energy and help you feel more alert, they can also increase feelings of restlessness and nervousness, further contributing to anxiety.

To combat this, it’s important to practice self-care and set healthy limits in order to avoid overstimulation.

4. Avoidance

Avoiding situations that make you anxious can actually reinforce anxiety and make it harder to overcome. This is because you don’t give yourself the opportunity to learn how to cope with anxiety and manage your emotions in a healthy way.  

Avoidance can also reinforce the belief that  the situation is dangerous or threatening, leading to even more anxiety.

Instead of avoiding such scenarios, you should face them gradually and develop healthy coping strategies to manage your emotions. This way, you can become more resilient and feel more in control of your thoughts and feelings.

5. Clutter

Have you ever noticed that when your space is cluttered and disorganized, it can make you feel more stressed and anxious? It’s not just in your head.

Research has shown that a cluttered environment can contribute to increased stress and anxiety levels. 

When your surroundings are chaotic and disorganized, it can create a sense of overwhelm and make it harder to focus on tasks.  

Moreover, clutter can be a visual reminder of unfinished tasks or unresolved issues, contributing to feelings of anxiety and unease. And you’re more likely to procrastinate, too.

By taking steps to declutter and organize your place, you can create a more peaceful and calming environment, making it much easier to be productive and get things done.

6. Perfectionism

Perfectionism can be a real pain when it comes to anxiety. Holding yourself to impossibly high standards and expecting nothing less than perfection, puts a lot of pressure and stress on you.

And that often leads to anxiety. And let’s be real, nobody’s perfect. So striving for perfection can be a never-ending cycle of disappointment and frustration. 

One way to work on reducing this tendency is by practicing self-compassion and setting realistic expectations for yourself.

This might include reframing your thoughts to focus on progress rather than perfection, being kind and understanding toward yourself even when you make mistakes, and seeking support from others when needed.

7. Catastrophizing

When you catastrophize, you imagine the  absolute worst-case scenario and dwell on it. It’s like your mind is playing a scary movie, and you’re the main character.

The more you focus on it, the scarier it gets. This can make you feel helpless and like things are out of control, which can certainly make your anxiety a lot worse.

In order to alleviate the influence of catastrophizing, ask yourself questions like,  “Is this really the end of the world?” or “What’s the likelihood of this actually happening?”

You should also try to practice mindfulness and focus on the present moment rather than getting caught up in worries about the future.

8. Lack of Sleep or Poor Sleep Quality

Getting proper sleep is crucial for your overall  well-being, and it also plays a big role in managing anxiety. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more stress hormones like cortisol, making you feel more anxious and on edge.

And since sleep is also essential for your brain to process and consolidate memories, if you’re not sleeping well, you may have trouble letting go of anxious thoughts and worries. 

Plus, being tired and irritable from a lack of sleep can make you more prone to negative thinking. So, if you’re struggling with anxiety, you need to prioritize getting enough quality sleep as part of your overall self-care routine.

9. Social Isolation and Loneliness

As social creatures, humans thrive on interaction with others, and we feel a sense of belonging when we’re part of a community. Of course, the amount of social connection one needs can vary from person to person.

Some people feel fulfilled with just a few close relationships, while others need more social interaction to feel satisfied. 

Despite these differences, social connection is a fundamental human need that should not be ignored. 

When you’re completely isolated, you feel alone and disconnected, leading to negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness that can worsen anxiety symptoms.

In addition, loneliness can increase the likelihood of engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking or overeating, which can further exacerbate anxiety.

So, make an effort to nurture social connections and build meaningful relationships that provide support and make you feel valued.

While some level of anxiety is normal and can even be helpful in certain situations, when it’s excessive it can be disabling and interfere with daily life. 

If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, it’s important to identify the factors that contribute to your anxiety and make it worse so that you can take control of them.

It may also be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider or a mental health care professional for additional support.

Thanks for reading!

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