I hate to be the bearer of bad news, because the upcoming might as well be a list of some of my favorites. That being said there are some things that are commonly mistaken for comforting that will actually have your anxiety feeling worse in the long run.
This doesn’t mean that you can never, ever have any of them. Often times, when my anxiety is under control, I can have any of the things on this list in moderation and my anxiety won’t flare up at all. However, when my anxiety is acting up, I have to tread very lightly, if at all, with the following:
1.Caffeine – This one is definitely the hardest for me. I love caffeine, especially in the form of coffee. I love hot coffee, iced coffee, fancy coffee, and even the gross stuff they keep in my office. I love it all. Unfortunately, my anxiety doesn’t. The overstimulation of caffeine can mimic some of the physical sensations caused by anxiety and make a person feel like they are anxious even when they are not.
2. Alcohol – Stressed out? Have a glass of wine, right? Well, not exactly. Although this isn’t true for everyone, for many people having a drink to relieve your stress is a slippery slope to relying on alcohol to keep your anxiety at bay. In addition, alcohol can actually lower levels of serotonin in the brain, which can cause anxiety to kick in.
3. Junk food & sugar – Trust me, there is nothing I love more than a delicious, sugary treat when I am feeling stressed out. Unfortunately, my anxiety does not think the same. In the immediate moment, sugar can release endorphins that make us feel happy or comforted (why they call some things comfort food!). However, the sugar high is only temporary and once it starts to fade our brains will only crave more and we will soon become agitated. Although it might make you feel good for a while, junky foods ultimately do more harm than good.
4. Too much technology – there are definitely times that technology can come in handy when dealing with anxiety. Reading helpful articles, listening to guided meditations, or looking up delicious and healthy recipes – all of these things can be extremely beneficial in the fight against your anxious symptoms. However, a majority of the time, people aren’t using technology for these reasons. I’ll be the first to fess up. As much as I always want to spend my time on my computer productively, next thing you know eighty instagram scrolls later I’ve wasted a ridiculous amount of my time. If we are using technology as a distraction against coping instead of learning ways to cope, we are only delaying the healing process.
5. Sleeping too much – Don’t get me wrong, after a stressful day there is nothing that sounds better that jumping into my bed and curling up for a nap. And let me be clear, I am not hating on naps here. We just have to be careful that sleeping doesn’t replace coping entirely. Our beds can be a comfy safe place for us to retreat to, however, it shouldn’t become a place where we hide. Just like anything else, we want to have a healthy, balanced relationship with our pillow filled havens.
Individually, I can usually tolerate one or two of the above and still keep my anxious symptoms at bay, but start combining them and it is recipe for anxiety. I honestly can’t think of anything more stress inducing than not sleeping after a night of drinking and eating junk food, only to wake up tired to get over caffeinated and watch t.v. all day. The only problem is that it sounds way to familiar right? Please remember that I am NOT, I repeat NOT here to judge. Trust me, I’ve experienced that awful mix way too many times, but I can say that things have been so much better since I’ve learned to take the above with awareness and moderation.
It’s also important to remember that getting rid of your anxiety takes time. It is unrealistic to think that if you don’t drink coffee for one day all of your problems will be solved. Ridding yourself of anxiety is a lifestyle change that doesn’t happen overnight. However, it’s also the most important change I’ve ever made.
Cheering you on,