4 Strategies That Fuel Your Anxiety

The National Alliance For Mental Illness reports that over 40 million American adults struggle with anxiety. That is just over 19% of adults! While there are a variety of causes for anxiety, some causes are “self inflicted.” Do you feed your anxiety? Below you will find four ways you might be feeding your anxious thoughts.

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

This black and white thinking can heighten anxious thoughts as the brain processes everything as either all good or all bad. There is no “gray area” in this type of thinking. This type of thinking can be difficult to overcome, especially after many years. If your automatic thoughts succumb to this way of thinking, it can be helpful to carry reminders with you such as a note card with challenging questions or alternative, more positive ways of thinking.


Forming a conclusion based on a single incident creates an alert to your mind that can often make you anxious. Thoughts and phrases such as “always,” “every” and “never” trigger this response. It is the convincing of self that things will not be different based upon a previous incident. To change this, try calming yourself and remind yourself that “this time could be different.” It also helps to consider how things are different, rather than only how they are similar. This creates a new perspective that can have a calming effect on anxiety.


Do you overestimate negative outcomes and underestimate your ability to cope? Catastrophizing feeds your anxiety by seeing only the worst possible outcomes in any given situation. It is a lens that is used to filter out any good outcomes, indications, and clues in a circumstance so that all thoughts focus on the negative. When we catastrophize, we minimize our ability to deal with a situation in a healthy way. Rather, we allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed and give in to the idea that we cannot possibly overcome. If you struggle with this, transition your focus onto what can be done and what is in your ability to control. This will start you off in the right direction.


Do you often decide that you are to blame for things and for how somebody feels? Personalization is the tendency to interpret situations and other’s emotions as your primary responsibility, to a fault. It is true that you can contribute to the emotions of others and the outcomes of a situation, but to take full responsibility for those emotions and outcomes is not healthy. To take full responsibility is to ignore the choices others have made and their autonomy. Personalization can cause the brain to go into overdrive and heighten anxiety as we replay the situation over and over again.


Rather than feed our anxiety, we should stop these in their tracks. Do not give in to feeding your anxious brain, rather, learn techniques to ease your anxiety. While avoiding these traps is a good start to getting a handle on your anxiety, some anxiety is stubborn and doesn’t easily go away. If you need more specialized help overcoming your anxious thoughts, we are here for you. Reach out or schedule an appointment to find out how our team can help you find relief!