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« Anxiety: 8 ways we make it worse, by Rachel Green »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. Your smart emotions coach: Helping people find positive outcomes from uneasy emotions. Director of The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has cured herself of panic attacks through meditation.

Anxiety: 8 ways we make it worse

Managing anxiety can be hard. Yet when we are feeling anxious what we do can sometimes make the anxiety worse. How we react can mean that not only do we have anxiety but we double the amount we started with!

Anxiety occurs to differing degrees, for differing reasons, and for different lengths of time. There is not ONE cause of anxiety nor one reason for feeling anxious.

There are many possible causes and many possible ways we can make anxiety worse (or better). 

Here are 8 ways, from my experience, that people, including me, can make anxiety worse.

Anxiety: 8 ways people make it worse: 1-4

I know that:

1. The more we fear, hate and try to get rid of anxiety the bigger and worse it gets. By its very nature a fear of anxiety adds anxiety on top of anxiety. We become anxious about getting anxious.

2. The more we try to avoid all the situations in which we imagine our anxiety will rear up the more our anxiety grows and closes us down. Running from anxiety encourages it to chase after us.

3. Anxiety can be fueled by a negative imagination: we imagine something will go wrong, we react as if it has happened, and we get anxious, all in a few seconds and without even leaving our beds, offices or lounge rooms.

4. Anxiety is often about the future not about the present. We worry about will happen IN THE FUTURE, e.g. when we meet someone, when we go to the Doctors, when we get our exam questions or results. If we stay focused on what is happening right now anxiety does not have a hook to attach itself to.

I found that by practising meditation on a regular basis that I became able to stay in the present moment more often and to stop myself creating anxious stories about a future that hadn't happened. If you'd like to practice meditation to ease your anxiety I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3 recordings to you. The meditations on them are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart


Anxiety: 8 ways people make it worse: 5-8

 5. Some of us adopt an identity of being "an anxious person" as though it is a permanent state; or we own the anxiety, "My social anxiety ...". Sometimes identifying with anxiety in this way can make it harder to shrug it off.

6. Anxiety may echo a more general discomfort with the unknown, with a loss of control, with rejection, or with our feelings. Thus, it may not be our anxiety we must get rid of but our inability to tolerate the unknown, rejection or our feelings.

7. When we do not like, or are "out of touch with" our feelings, and they arise, we can feel overwhelmed and frightened. Part of the journey of living with or managing anxiety is learning to be more comfortable with a whole range of feelings.

8. This is a big one: Just because we feel anxious about a particular activity, person or place doesn't mean there is anything fundamentally wrong with the activity, person or place; anxiety can attach itself to good things.

What have you found makes your anxiety worse or keeps you feeling anxious?

If you want to try meditation to ease your anxiety I recommend our "Happy not hassled" MP3 recordings to you. The meditations on there are the ones I used to help me overcome my panic attacks.

MP3s $29(US) Add to Cart


NB: Any information contained in this article is not provided as an alternative to the obtaining of psychological advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Rachel is not a psychologist, Dr or psychiatrist. If you, or people known to you, have significant anxiety please seek professional help and do not rely on this for the diagnosis or treatment of any psychological problems.