Anxiety and panic disorders are chronic conditions that can make it difficult to live a normal life, hold down a job or even leave the house. Bad habits can trigger anxiety, leading to a distressing cycle that keeps you stuck and can even lead to other mental health problems. Breaking these bad habits can be the starting point for beating chronic anxiety and reclaiming your life.

Shallow Breathing

Shallow and fast breathing leads to hyperventilation and causes a wide range of symptoms, including breathlessness, choking sensations, chest pain, muscle weakness and tingling in the lips, fingers and legs.  Hyperventilation can trigger panic attacks and is a common cause, as well as a symptom, of anxiety. Retraining your breathing and learning to take slow, deep breaths can take time, as bad breathing habits are hard to break.

Avoidance of Triggers

Avoiding triggers that cause or worsen the symptoms of anxiety is a natural reaction, but it can make the problem worse. For example, if large crowds of people make you feel anxious, it's natural to avoid busy shopping malls, birthday parties and other social events. However, when you avoid doing something you're afraid of, the fear tends to get bigger and stronger.

Exposure therapy can be useful for many people who use avoidance to cope with anxiety. Exposure therapy is often combined with other cognitive therapies and works by gradually increasing your exposure to the situations or objects you're afraid of. The therapist will help to support and encourage you throughout the process.

Excessive Worrying

Excessive worrying is a common problem, especially for people with anxiety disorders. Some people worry about specific things or events, while others worry continuously about many different things.

Worrying about things that are beyond your control makes you feel helpless and worsens the symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes, identifying and labeling your worries can be enough to make them lose their power. Writing your worries down or talking them over with a friend or therapist can also help to put things into perspective.

Watching the News

Focusing on negative events leads to negative thoughts and feelings. Positive stories rarely make the news headlines, which means that watching or reading the news often makes anxiety worse.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to avoid the news completely. Social media and other online platforms produce a steady stream of negative news stories, making it difficult to combat chronic anxiety. Limiting your exposure to news coverage is one of the best things you can do when trying to overcome anxiety.

Eating the Wrong Foods

Diet plays an important role in the prevention of anxiety and panic attacks. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for good mental health. It also helps to prevent nutritional deficiencies, which can sometimes be responsible for anxiety-like symptoms.

Some foods can even cause anxiety. Food and drink containing caffeine and some artificial additives are well-known for making anxiety worse, but any food that causes a reaction can be a trigger. If you believe certain foods could be triggering your anxiety, try keeping a food diary to look for patterns.

Finally, anxiety can be caused or made worse by negative beliefs and distorted thought processes. Changing these beliefs and thoughts can be extremely difficult, so it's usually best to seek the help of a therapist. Cognitive and talking therapies can make a big difference and help to speed up your recovery.