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Making New Habits to Cope with Anxiety Can Increase Anxiety

July 10, 2018 Jenny Capper

Making new habits to cope with anxiety is crucial. But you can overdo it. Learn the pitfalls of making new habits, too many, too fast at HealthyPlace.

Making new habits to cope with anxiety is an important part of anxiety self-help. By establishing routines, we can take on more in our lives without feeling overwhelmed. However, attempting to change too much at once can end in disappointment. Working on making new habits too quickly can fuel anxiety rather than help it.

Even with anxiety medication, I still struggle with anxiety. When I realized that this will a lifelong battle, I began to search the Internet for ways of helping myself. There are hundreds of blog posts, book suggestions, and tips and tricks for people with mental illness. 

Making New Habits: Too Many at Once Increases Anxiety

I started making new habits -- many of them, all at once. Things like meditation, better nutrition, exercise, journaling, channeling anxiety into a hobby, finding a community to share with, etc.

With all these choices, I immediately started having anxiety. Where do I start? Which one is the best? Why would I do this one over that one?

As I stressed over what to try changing first, I had an idea. I decided that I needed to incorporate everything into my daily routine all at once. If I only focused on one, I’d be lacking in other areas. How could I feel the full effect if I didn't start changing everything?

In my mind, this made perfect sense. I was so anxious about wanting to feel better, I didn't realize how this would actually cause more anxiety.

My next day off from work, I pledged to start putting everything into motion. 

Early that morning, I went on a 30-minute run after meditating for 10 minutes. I drove to the grocery store and bought vegetables by the pound, checking off a list of healthy meal preparation recipe ingredients. I wrote over three pages in my journal, read blog posts about how to reduce anxiety, and started to plan my week out.

I Felt Overwhelmed and Anxious When Creating Too Many Habits

The next morning, I hit the snooze button multiple times and missed my designated exercise time. I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for work, but I was running late.

I rushed out the door and forgot my pre-packed lunch in the fridge.

When I got home, I looked at my journal laying on my desk. I was too tired to pick it up. At the end of the day, I was able to fit in a meditation session, but as I laid in bed, I berated myself for dropping the ball on everything else. I started to cry and the discouragement I felt followed me through the week. I gave up on everything.

Juggling all those changes at once only ended in everything crashing to the ground. I set myself up for failure.

Small Steps Are Key to Making New Habits

Setting a goal for making new habits is so important. However, it’s easier to take baby steps and only work on one new habit at a time. Incorporate it into your daily routine. Whether it takes you a week or a couple months, focus on that one habit until it becomes second nature. Then you can move on to the next one.

As I strive to change my daily routines for the better, every little victory motivates me further. 

Set small goals to work towards your larger goal. I used the example of reducing anxiety because that’s something that I'm working on right now. But this can be applied to any goal that you have. Give yourself the chance to succeed at smaller things in order to build your confidence to take on the bigger things.

By setting yourself up for success, you will be able to make positive changes without overwhelming yourself.

I would love to hear how you tackle making new habits. Leave a comment below with your best tips and tricks.

APA Reference
Capper, J. (2018, July 10). Making New Habits to Cope with Anxiety Can Increase Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2018/7/making-new-habits-to-cope-with-anxiety-can-increase-anxiety



Author: Jenny Capper

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