3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

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.


Boundaries are important for keeping relationships healthy and happy. If you don't feel protected, respected, or listened to, it might be time to examine yours. Here are four boundaries you need if you want to improve your relationships.

1. Protect your time

Time is precious and once it's gone, you can't get it back. It's important that you value your time so that others will as well. If you stop what you're doing every time they text, call, or want to hang out, you're not respecting your own time. When people learn you'll cater to them and their needs, they may take advantage. They will begin to expect you there when it suits them. By not enforcing this boundary, you may find certain people becoming upset when you're not at their beck and call. By not setting this boundary you may find that you have no time for your personal projects, self-care, and even your job. Do you have a needy friend who texts non-stop or calls while you're at work? It's time to put your foot down and tell your friend you can't talk on the phone while at work and that if her texts go unanswered for a while it's because you're working. If other people lack boundaries, it's up to you to enforce them if you want healthy relationships.

2. Make sure you're getting and not just giving

In any healthy relationship, there should be a balance between giving and taking. If you do most of the giving, while the other person does most of the taking, this is an unhealthy relationship. There are going to be times when one person gives or takes more because things aren't always 50/50. You should never keep score, but you will notice when you're the one giving and never being thought of in return. If you're naturally a giving person, it might be difficult for you to start setting boundaries with those close to you. Sometimes we get used to relationships being a certain way that we don't consider that it could be better. Your friend or partner may not realize they're neglecting you, so you want to have a discussion with them before assuming they are being selfish on purpose.

3. Don't tolerate manipulation

Manipulation is a tactic employed by people to get what they want. It's important to remember you're allowed to say "no" to anyone at any time. People don't like to hear it, but some will accept it while others refuse to accept it as a final answer. The ones who refuse to hear "no" are the ones who may resort to manipulation. They will try to guilt you by saying you don't care about them or love them. You will naturally feel bad and want to prove yourself, but giving in is a bad idea. If people learn that manipulation works on you, they'll continue to use it. Remind yourself and others that caring about someone and loving someone doesn't mean you give them what they want constantly.

4. Name-calling and abuse is never okay

If you grew up being called names or being abused, it's something you might be used to. You might not flinch anymore when these things happen, but that doesn't mean they are okay. If you're called names by a friend, family member, or spouse, you must stand up for yourself and make it known it's not acceptable. This is a boundary that no one in your life should ever cross. Someone who loves you will not abuse you in any way.

Boundaries are required in all relationships. Without them, you may find yourself unhappy, disrespected, and not feeling loved.


Many people find themselves in toxic relationships, and it's all too easy to stay in them far too long. A toxic substance causes great harm to your body, and the damage can be hard to heal from. A toxic relationship can damage your happiness, self-esteem and belief in yourself in much the same way. It's important to know the key signs that a relationship is no longer healthy for you so that you can get help or get out. Here are five signs of a toxic relationship that you should never ignore. 

1. You feel like everything you do is wrong

If your partner is constantly putting you down and making you feel small, this is a big red flag. They may make fun of the things you say and do or make you feel belittled. This may feel even worse if they do it in public or in front of friends and family. At worst, you may feel like you have to think and act just like your partner to avoid criticism. This type of dynamic can rob you of your sense of self and make you feel inadequate. 

2. There doesn't seem to be any happy moments anymore

Even the healthiest relationships go through rough patches and periods of time where you just can't see eye-to-eye. However, in a toxic relationship, it often feels like the good times have gone for good. Your partner is constantly negative and there is always a new problem to worry about. This keeps you in a constant state of stress and anxiety and prevents you from enjoying life fully. 

3. You've become isolated

In any relationship, it's important to maintain the bonds and ties you had with friends and family before you met your significant other. If your partner discourages you from socializing outside of your relationship, this is a toxic form of control and can leave you feeling lonely and unhappy. Alternatively, you may be so exhausted from the trials and tribulations of coping with your partner's behavior that you lose interest in your social life. 

4. Your partner stops you from growing as a person

In a supportive relationship, it's a joy to watch your partner blossom and grow as a person. However, some toxic partners prefer their partner to stay just as they are. They don't want to see them striving to improve themselves. Whenever you take steps towards positive changes in your life, either personally or professionally, your partner responds with negativity or pokes fun at your achievements. After a while, you may simply stop trying to grow as a person altogether to avoid criticism of your efforts. 

5. You're walking on eggshells

If you find yourself trying to predict your partner's mood and what will or won't make them angry, this is a bad sign. You may find yourself turning down opportunities to do things you really want to do "just in case" your partner is enraged. It may seem no matter how hard you try, you simply can't avoid angering them into outbursts that seem to come from out of the blue. Living with this kind of tension can be extremely stressful and draining in the long-term. 

The bottom line

If you're noticing some or all of these signs in your relationship, it may be time to consider walking away. Toxic relationships can be hard to leave, and you may need help from family, friends or a therapist to find the strength that you need. However, the longer you stay in a damaging relationship, the more harm it does to your self-worth, and the harder it is to get out. The sooner you break free from this type of relationship, the sooner you'll be free to pursue your own happiness and find the supportive, loving partner you want and deserve. 


It's normal to want to get rid of negative thoughts. After all, they are at best uncomfortable, and at worst painful. You imagine you'll be better off without them. Nonetheless, each unwanted thought exists for a reason and says something about you. Uncover the gems hidden in disparaging self-talk and you will recognize the wisdom that can help you grow.

Why negative thoughts exist

No one, not even a spiritual leader, is free of negativity. Negative thoughts are part of life, and they occur for good reasons. They tell you when to change tack or keep going in the same direction, so you know what to avoid or move toward.

Critical self-talk arises from familiar discomfort, and it doesn't cause your unease. It reflects what goes on inside you. If you get rid of it, your disquiet will still exist.

For example, you might be upset if it's not your turn to put the trash out, but your partner's left you with the task and gone out. Self-talk triggered by the event will echo what you already feel. If you have low self-esteem, it might say your partner doesn't care about you. Then again, if you have healthy self-esteem, it may say your partner was just forgetful. How you view what happens, which is summed up by your thoughts, says more about your frame of mind and beliefs than anything else.

The essence of negative thoughts

Maybe you've contemplated how terrific it would be to have a personal guide, like a genie, someone who works entirely on your behalf to improve your wellbeing. The idea isn't as outlandish or magical as you imagine. You have an inner guide: your internal voice.

When you fight negative thoughts, you stop self-understanding. You don't give yourself the chance to learn. Negative thoughts let you know where you are, so you can check your location against your preferred destination. Your internal voice mirrors your emotions and perspectives, but don't take its words literally.

Rather than take negative self-talk to heart, recognize it highlights your fear. It may show your self-worth is low. As such, the sight of the trash still in the kitchen bin instead of outside ready for collection, triggers your anxiety. Once you know the underlying emotion, you can trace it to its origins.

How to understand your negativity

Negative thoughts often come from beliefs formed in childhood. If a parent abandoned you, for instance, or was unkind, you might not believe you are lovable. Familiar feelings of shame, fear, and pain swim to the surface of consciousness when circumstances push your buttons.

If they resemble the original events at the bottom of your psyche, even to a modest degree, you'll experience anxiety. Then negative thoughts to explain what's occurred rise. Your mind creates a story for you to decipher, and its intention is to help you resolve issues.

Look behind negative thoughts. Treat them as paths to unresolved traumas. Sit quietly, figure out their origins, and acknowledge your fears related to the past. Now you can view your history with fresh eyes and let current knowledge help you manage. You might note misconceptions, and can come to terms with events and let them go.

When you uncover the hidden reasons for negative thoughts, you learn about yourself and what makes you react as you do. You gain clarity and emotional intelligence that helps you deal with life's challenges with less anxiety.

About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!