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Anxiety is Your Worst Habit



What do you do when you get anxious?


I'm guessing that you try to do something that lifts your anxiety. This may be exercising, meditating, eating, etc.

This activity may or may not alleviate your anxiety for the time being, but it eventually returns. You then go through the process again.


For most people, anxiety is a habit loop. It goes through the traditional

trigger -> behavior -> reward cycle. It is a habit of worry.

For example, say you open your emails today and see a flood of tasks and inquiries. The email triggers stress, then you attempt to alleviate the stress by procrastinating with something more enjoyable like scrolling Instagram. This creates the reward.

Not only does this not address the original problem, but it also teaches your brain that stress and worry are triggers that will be rewarded. You should have more stress and worry because then you get more surges of dopamine.

This exemplifies the core of anxiety, our need to control the world and avoid pain. The formula for anxiety would go as follows:

Fear + uncertainty = anxiety

We do not like fear or uncertainty. So we want them to go away. For some, this means repeatedly playing out situations of what can go wrong in the future. This leads to more anxiety, but it also leads to the reward of feeling in control. If there is anything humans love is to feel in control.

Yet, if we were able to separate from this need of control, we would be able to finally break the cycle of anxiety.

Uncertainty is not fun, but it is part of life and if we can accept it and even embrace it we can finally come off our drug-like dependence on worry and anxiety.