Everyone suffers from anxiety on occasion. However, there are some people that live with anxiety on a daily basis. These pent up feelings of fear, panic, and worry, impact their mind, and ultimately, their everyday life. In an effort to mask the anxiety, it’s also common for them to try coping mechanisms. While some like meditation or exercise, can be great ways to cope with anxiety, others like biting your nails or abusing drugs and alcohol will do more harm than good.
Coping with anxiety can require a number of things ranging from medication and therapy to changing your diet and getting more sleep. Though it is important to explore options to determine which works best for you, if you’ve developed any of these bad habits trying to overcome anxiety, it’s imperative that you start taking steps to correct them.
Biting your nails is a common response to anxiety. When triggered you chip away at nail polish or chew off and spit out your nails as a form of distraction. Adults who bite their nails as a response to anxiety likely had this same habit as a child. While it can be difficult to break, failure to do so could lead to pain and discomfort, cracked or chipped teeth, and infection.
Most people stop thumb sucking as toddlers or elementary school-aged children. Those who continue to suck their thumb often do so as a response to anxiety. The soothing feeling provides them with temporary relief from the thoughts racing around in their mind. Continuing to suck your thumb as an adult can result in misaligned teeth, oral infections, and speech problems.
Scrolling Through Smartphones
To try and regain control of their thoughts, it’s not uncommon to start mindlessly scrolling through your phone. You might hop on social media or begin aimlessly searching blogs without rhyme or reason. The idea is to take your mind off of what you’re experiencing by giving yourself something else to think about. The problem with this habit, however, is that it can quickly become an addiction that causes you to get lost for hours and miss out on your responsibilities and life in general.
Some people cope with anxiety by isolating themselves from everyone. The fear of their anxiety (or other bad habits) being exposed, feeling like a burden, and the overall fear of being judged or misunderstood often cause this. Time alone may not be a bad idea if you feel especially anxious at the moment, but avoiding interaction with those you know and care about is emotionally damaging. Not only are you missing out on life but you are creating the perfect environment for depression to develop.
Drinking alcohol and/or abusing prescribed and illicit drugs can have a temporary calming effect for those that suffer from anxiety. As these substances stimulate the brain’s pleasure center, it provides a natural form of euphoria. This, however, is only temporary. Once the buzz or high wears off, your anxiety returns. Eventually, your body gets used to the substance and you develop a dependency which later turns into a full-blown addiction.
Last, but not least on the list of bad habits derived from anxiety is self-harm or reckless behavior. Very similar to an addiction, you inflict harm on yourself or engage in dangerous activities to take your mind off the anxiety. It provides a sense of euphoria and relief. You might start cutting yourself, pulling your hair out, banging your head against the wall, or participating in illegal behaviors like driving while under the influence.
When suffering from anxiety there are days when things become so overwhelming that you’ll do anything to cope. Be that as it may, some coping mechanisms are damaging to your health and overall quality of life. If you’re guilty of any of these bad habits as a means of coping with anxiety (or any other overwhelming emotion), it is important to seek help and develop healthier habits to reclaim your life.