- Mental Health
Anxiety Disorders and Changing Bad Habits
Fear. It’s the core ingredient to an anxiety disorder. If you have panic attacks you will fear the next one. If you have a generalised anxiety problem your worries will bring about high levels of fear. Although it may all appear to be an involuntary state, if we look closely there are common bad habits that feed our worry and thus keep us in a fear cycle.
We tend not to identify a lot of our anxiety problems with a plain fear reaction, but anxiety disorders are generally speaking based on this. A worry becomes a catastrophe and this way of thinking is the straw that breaks the camel’s back! We get so entrenched in a different, negative way of thinking, that we often don’t recognise the bad habits piling up. These bad habits are yet another ingredient and exacerbate the state we find ourselves in, but there are ways we can minimise our worry and fear by addressing them.
Questioning - When we get chronically anxious we know that there is something very wrong. For a long time perhaps we don’t even know what that something is. Can anxiety really make us feel as bad as this? Can it really interfere with our lives to such an extent that we are now unable to function adequately? Will we ever recover? Will we go insane? Will we become so depressed that we can’t go on? Of course questions like these should be addressed on diagnosis by a professional but where do you draw the line? Thereafter you may not totally accept your diagnosis and this adds to the confusion. What if the doctor got it wrong? The more confused we get, the more mystery everything has and what we don’t understand frightens us causing a vicious cycle of fear and worry.
Whether we like it or not we need to accept an anxiety disorder diagnosis. You could spend your entire life questioning but if you are not willing to accept the answers and the truth, you will find it hard to address and recover.
Internet searching - This is really another form of questioning. Many chronic sufferers are always looking for the cure, a quick fix, the illness they worry they might have that is not anxiety related. The worried mind is a sensitive mind and prey to catastrophise the smallest physical pain, unusual feeling or thought.
Health anxiety is common but using the internet to self-diagnose is folly. You will scare yourself even more and chances are never actually find the missing link or the elusive diagnosis. Usually there isn’t one but seek and ye shall surely find a wrong diagnosis or misinformation and add a ton more fear to the equation. It can turn into a never-ending search so don’t be tempted. Accept a professional’s opinion and make a pact not to trawl the internet with the intent of proving that professional wrong. Trust your doctor and your body to let you know when there is really something that warrants urgent attention. This is usually what people who don’t have an anxiety problem do!
Apprehension - We lose a lot of confidence when we become extremely anxious and this propels us into a constant state of apprehension. We worry about such things as the party next week, the parental meeting at school, the day trip; anything that we feel is going to stretch us to the limit with our anxiety problem. If we suffer with panic disorder this will be a huge problem area. You will be going through that future scenario over and over in your mind. The more you think about it the more apprehensive you feel to the point of sheer dread. This is what often causes avoidance and I’m sure you have heard people say, think something long enough and it will surely happen.
The imagination is a powerful thing so use it to your advantage to counteract apprehension. If you have to negatively act out that scenario in your tired worried mind then you can equally act it out positively using your imagination. You do have a choice in how you use your imagination. See that situation in your mind as it proceeds and see yourself being fine, talking to people, smiling and feeling a sense of triumph when it is over. Try to enjoy that situation even if it’s only in your imagination. Really act it out in a positive way. Practise this regularly. Most find that upon doing the thing they fear it is not usually as bad as they anticipated. Imagine that! All that wasted fear build up.
If you find using your imagination in this way too difficult then at least make a pact with yourself that you will only worry about something at the point of it happening.
Responsibility - Many people with anxiety disorders can feel overwhelmed by the responsibility for dependent children. This creates fear too. What if I can’t cope anymore? The same can be said of their relationship with their partner. What if I can’t be a good husband or wife while I feel as bad as this? The pressure to get to work each day can create a fear of losing a job. It’s all worry and equally creates a state of constant fear. Anxiety sufferers tend to a ask a lot of what ifs.
If you have a partner then share your worries, don’t carry them alone. Ask for a little help now and again. It’s ok to need a little help whilst you are going through the worst of your anxiety problem. Don’t feel guilty as that creates more stress. Accept this as a temporary situation. Admit to yourself if you feel unable to be the one who is all supporting, always there for your friends and relatives. Take control of how much you feel you can comfortably offer without it all adding to your burden. Everyone else will manage without you. You were not put on this earth to carry the burden for everyone else! You do the asking for a change. Try and find someone to mind the kids now and again for a break. However, don’t fall prey to becoming dependent or needy as this will defeat the object and you will lose control and the desire to cope.
All of the things above have the capacity to exacerbate your worrying, fearful state. Recognising some of your bad habits and changing them can only produce positive results. You will feel a little more in control and this will breed more confidence and hope. It takes some effort on your part and only you can decide if you want to address the bad habits you have acquired