Are You Feeding Your Anxiety?

Every year, over two million Australians experience anxiety. That’s quite a big chunk. Are you one of these people?

Stress is a normal response under high-pressure or frightening situations. It’s when the stress continues past the experience, that it can manifest as anxiety. As much as you might want to shake the feeling of panic or worry, it can be difficult.

But are sufferers unwittingly making their anxiety worse? A look at common habits and their link to anxiety, tells us that this might be the case.

Smoking

While smoking rates have dropped over the last 15 years or so, 2015 showed a whopping 14.7% of Australians are still hooked. Though you might be lighting one up to relax, the physical effects of smoking on the body could have the opposite effect long term.

A review of the data shows that while more research is still needed, cigarette smoke does appear to influence things such as brain structure and inflammation. These are two pathways by which it may increase those anxious feelings.

Poor gut-care

The relationship between gut health and brain health has been well-documented over the years. Studies have demonstrated that an unhappy gut can negatively affect the brain, causing depression, anxiety, and just overall icky-ness.

By feeding our microbiome an unhealthy diet—rich in processed foods, refined sugars and little fibre—we’re setting ourselves up for failure. The ecosystem of bacteria living inside of us are in charge of many aspects of our health. This includes not only mental health, but also lower inflammation, improved immune function, and prevention of chronic disease.

See our article on Gut Bacteria: Maintaining The Good Guys for a bigger scoop on this topic.

Rumination

An inability to let go of what has happened can amp up your anxiety. Rumination is defined as negatively dwelling on a feeling or event after it has passed.  It’s a vicious circle when it comes to rumination and anxiety—it’s hard to tell what happens first.

Given that one feeds the other, it’s important to break the cycle of negative thinking and learn to let go. Maintaining negative thoughts in the forefront of your mind will only cause you further distress.

Addicted to negativity

If you struggle with worry and anxiety, overexposing yourself to negative content won’t make you feel better. From newspapers, to TV shows, to social media—it’s easy to spend countless hours absorbed in how things are going wrong.

Our brains fancy drama and harrowing news more than positive information. It’s a way of thinking that we can consciously choose to leave. Visit our post on how to filter your inputs for an easy to implement action plan.

If these habits sound familiar to you, don’t stress. By educating yourself on these issues, committing to the cause, and implementing strategies for change, you can get a better handle on anxiety.

Take it one step at a time. If you feel you need confidential support, reach out to organisations such as Beyond Blue for coping advice.