Home » 7 Mindless Habits That Cause Anxiety in Students and Youth, and What You Can Do To Solve Them Naturally

7 Mindless Habits That Cause Anxiety in Students and Youth, and What You Can Do To Solve Them Naturally

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Anxiety affects many children and youth in America. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9.4% of children aged between three and 17 years (about 5.8 million) were diagnosed with anxiety between 2016 and 2019. (1). And in the National Comorbidity Survey carried out some years ago almost 32% of U.S. adolescents experience some kind of anxiety at some point in their lives. (2)

Anxiety can affect your physical health as well as your education.


How Anxiety Can Affect Your Physical Health

Anxiety can have a direct effect on your physical health, as well as worsen certain health conditions.

Central Nervous System

If you experience anxiety constantly for a long period of time, your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones, into your nervous system, often. This can make you suffer dizziness and headaches.(3)

Cardiovascular System

Research suggests anxiety increases inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These markers cause coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, unstable angina, heart disease, and heart failure. (4)

Peptic Ulcer

Research has shown anxiety can help induce the increased secretion of gastric acid and thus increase one’s risk of developing peptic ulcers. (5)

How Anxiety Can Affect Your Education

Research shows anxiety can also affect your academic performance in school. (6)

Research has shown anxiety can affect the way your brain works.  That can make you score low grades in school, or even fail. (7,8,9)

How To Know You Have Anxiety

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that makes you experience symptoms in your body such as difficulty breathing, your heart beating faster than it normally does, and profuse sweating.

In addition to the physical symptoms, you also experience certain feelings in your body. Some of these feelings are: you find it hard to concentrate in class and on your books, you may find it hard to think clearly and logically, you have difficulty remembering things among other feelings.

Common Causes Of Anxiety

Anxiety can be caused by a number of biological and environmental factors. Some of the biological factors include another mental health disease, physical health diseases such as heart disease, asthma, or hormonal diseases such as thyroid diseases. It can also be passed on genetically from parents to their children.

Environmental causes of anxiety include life-threatening events, a breakup between your dad and mom, losing a friend or relative, and verbal, sexual and other kinds of abuse. Your personality can also make you experience anxiety— when you always want to be in control. (10)

The most common causes of anxiety are widely recognized. There are habits too that can cause anxiety. But many students, youth, and young adults may not be aware they are engaging in some of these habits that may be causing them anxiety.

Here are a few mindless habits that cause anxiety that you need to know about. Even if you are engaging in some of these habits don’t worry. This article will also give you tips to help you deal with those habits so anxiety doesn’t end up affecting your health and your academic performance.

1. Not Drinking Enough Water

Research To Back It

Do you drink a glass of water only when you feel thirsty? That can increase your risk of developing anxiety. Studies show that even mild dehydration can increase your risk of developing anxiety. Dehydration can also make you feel lethargic, and even make it hard for you to think clearly. And this can affect males, as well as females. (11,12)

How Dehydration Causes Anxiety

When you become dehydrated, your body finds it hard to release the chemicals required for the production of serotonin (a chemical messenger in the brain that stabilizes mood). The brain cells pick this up as a threat to your survival and activate the “fight or flight mechanism” and that causes anxiety. (13)

Furthermore, your body releases more amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, when you are dehydrated. Cortisol is known to cause anxiety. (14)

How Much Water Should You Drink?

Boys between the ages of 14 and 18 years should aim at drinking 1.9 liters (about seven or eight cups) a day. Girls between nine and 18 years should try to drink 1.6 liters (about 6 cups) a day.

Men should try to drink about 2.6 liters (10 cups) a day. Women should try to drink about 2 liters (8 cups) of fluids a day. (15)

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend that you do these to stay hydrated:

·        Drink water with meals, in between meals, after meals, throughout the day.

·        Keep a refillable water bottle with you always so you can drink water anytime you are thirsty.

·        Squeeze lemon into the water you drink, or drop slices of cucumber in it, to make it more pleasant to drink.

·        Eat fruits and veggies often because they contain a lot of water.

·        Drink unsweetened beverages instead of sweetened ones like soda and energy drinks.

2. Consuming Too Much Caffeine

You may drink a lot of caffeine to help you stay alert in class, or to help you stay up all night so you can study. However, caffeine consumption can increase your levels of anxiety and raise your risk of getting a panic attack if you have a panic disorder.

Products That Contain Caffeine

You may think caffeine is found in only coffee. Caffeine can also be found in other products you consume, including coffee flavored foods such as coffee bean candies, ice cream, yogurts, some weight loss and workout- related supplements,

snack foods such as chewing gum, energy bars, peanut butter, gummy candy, tea, energy drinks, and many sodas. (16)

Research To Back It And How Caffeine Causes Anxiety

Caffeine’s chemical structure is similar to that of adenosine, a molecule that functions as a natural depressant and suppresses the arousal of the brain. When you consume a lot of caffeine, it blocks adenosine receptors (proteins in the body that receive and transmit signals from adenosine) and stops adenosine from working.

This blockade reverses the inhibition of adrenaline. The adrenaline that is released stimulates the muscles of the heart. This stimulation makes the heart beat faster, makes the blood pressure rise, and causes irregular heartbeats, restlessness, agitation, nervousness, headaches, sleeplessness, sweating, and makes it difficult for you to wake up in the morning. (17,18

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

Some experts recommend that you avoid consuming products that contain coffee until you are in high school. But if you must, then limit it to 375 ml or less. And wait until you are 19 years before you drink coffee regularly. (19)

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

·        Here are a few things to try to reduce your caffeine consumption:

o   Drink decaffeinated coffee. As you do, tell yourself you are drinking caffeinated coffee. Research has shown this trick can help reduce cravings, lack of alertness, and other withdrawal symptoms, better. (20)

·        Instead of drinking coffee, consider drinking sage herbal tea. It is rich in compounds such as apigenin, camphor, rosmarinic acid, luteolin, and quercetin. (21)

·        Research has shown that sage can help improve your alertness, memory, brain function, mood, word recall, and attention. (22

3. Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Research To Back It

Consuming alcohol in excess can cause new anxiety. It can also worsen an already existing anxiety disorder. (23)   

How It Causes Anxiety

Frequent alcohol consumption over a long period of time can affect the area of your brain that regulates your negative emotions known as the amygdala. As a result, you may respond to the stress of academic work in unhealthy ways and that can cause anxiety. (24

Additionally, chronic alcohol consumption will reduce the levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that normally relaxes the body— in your brain, and that can induce anxiety. (25

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that young people under the age of 21 should abstain from drinking alcohol. Men should consume at most five drinks at a single sitting. Women should drink between one and four drinks at a single sitting. (26)

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

·        Try kudzu root which is also called Japanese arrowroot. Kudzu is native to China, Korea, and Japan. Many Asians have used this herb for centuries for treating fevers, diarrhoea, and other diseases. Kudzu contains the isoflavones puerarin, daidzein and other isoflavones. Some studies have shown that puerarin extract can help reduce binge drinking in people. (2728)   

Research shows taking 1.2 grams of kudzu root extract a day for one week can help you. (29)   

You can also try taking a single dose of 2 grams before drinking alcohol. (30)  

·        You can consume it as food (just like you eat potatoes, you may bake it, deep-fry it, or eat it raw with jelly). You can also eat it as a root starch powder, thickener for soups and sauces, root tea, drink mixes, capsules, disintegrating tablets, and liquid extract drops.

·        Try mindfulness meditation. Research has shown it can help you control the urge to drink, help you fight off cravings, and make it easier for you to control yourself to prevent relapse. (31)  

·        If after doing all these things you still find it hard to reduce your alcohol consumption, see a doctor. (32)  

4. Spending Too Much Time Playing Computer Games

Research To Back It

Computer games can help you acquire knowledge, help expose you to new ideas, as well as help you to meet new friends. 

However, spending too much time playing these games can have an adverse effect on your mental health.

A study of 564 second year public school students in Iran, whose mean age was 13 years old, found that playing too many computer games for long hours can cause anxiety in the players. (33)  

How It Causes Anxiety

Computer games can cause a significant increase in the heartbeat of the player. (34)  

While you play the game, the excitement and stress will make your heart rate and blood pressure rise dramatically.

How Much Time Should You Spend Playing Computer Games?

The Australian Institute of Family Studies recommends that pupils and students (children and young people aged 5–17 years) limit their screen time to at most two hours a day. (35)  

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

If you find that you prioritize playing games over going to class, studying and other academic activities, then here are a few things to try:

·        Limit the amount of time you spend playing computer or video games every day.

·        Manage your room environment. Don’t sleep with your computer, smartphone, tablet etc. in your room.

·        Put away your devices when you are doing your homework.

·         Develop a network of older, more experienced friends and relatives you trust and respect. Talk to them when you can’t control the urge to play computer games when you should be studying, or when you find it hard to limit yourself to playing for only two hours a day.

·        Replace gaming with reading your academic books, playing with school mates and family, or talking to family and friends. (36)

5. Using Many Social Media Platforms

Research To Back It And How It Causes Anxiety

Research shows that joining between seven and 11 social media platforms can increase your risk of developing anxiety. There is an increased likelihood you will meet people you may have misunderstandings with, and people who will say or do something disagreeable to give you anxiety.

In face-to-face interactions when you say or do something embarrassing it can cause you some embarrassment. However, when you use many social media platforms and you gaffe, your gaffe may be misinterpreted and, through sharing, comments etc., amplified substantially, which will cause you extreme embarrassment and that can cause great anxiety.

You may turn to social media for support and encouragement when you are going through hard times. Failure to get the support you expected and anticipated may lead to feelings of exclusion. You may become disillusioned, think no one cares about you, and that can cause anxiety. (37)

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

The Anxiety and Depression Association of American recommends the following:

·        Read profiles carefully before you follow people. Look through their posts to make sure they post the kind of content that will not cause you anxiety, before you connect with them.

·        Be selective about the kind of content you view or read.

·        If a connection posts something that makes you feel anxious, gather the courage to leave that profile. If the person persists in that behavior, block him.

·        People may give the impression they are living a perfect life and may make you feel you are not living. Don’t let the online appearance of others make you feel you are being left behind in life.

·        Talk to a friend, family member, school counselor or any adult you trust when you read something online that makes you feel anxious. (38)

6. Watching Violent Movies Often

Research To Back It

Some studies have found out that some students, especially college students, develop long-lasting fears and anxiety when they watch violent movies or violent television programs. (39)

Thrillers, mystery stories, horror movies etc. that depict violence may

make you feel the world is more hostile and crime-ridden  than it actually is. Additionally, they may make you feel worried that you may encounter violence in

school, at home, and in other places in real life. (40)

They may also make you feel as though you are under a threat of some sort. That can cause immediate fear. (41)

How It Causes Anxiety

The perception of threat will activate your amygdala, which will activate your hypothalamus to release corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). When the levels of CRH increase it will trigger your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. These events will lead to activation of the fight-flight response. The release of these hormones will cause your blood pressure to rise, and your heart rate to increase. (424344)

These Things Will Help You Deal With It

Some experts recommend that you try these things:

·        Be mindful of how much time you spend watching these kinds of movies.

·        Don’t spend all your time watching these kinds of movies. Ensure these kinds of movies don’t prevent you from socializing with people and spending quality time with family.

·        Find something in real life you can focus all your attention on.

·        Substitute watching violent movies with something else. (45)

7. Not Sleeping Enough

Research To Back It

Research has shown people with poor sleep hygiene habits can increase their risk of developing anxiety. People who show trait anxiety or who have a high risk of developing an anxiety disorder may experience greater anxiety when they don’t get enough sleep. 

How It Causes Anxiety

Lack of adequate sleep stimulates the amygdala and anterior insula which are parts of the brain that contribute to anxiety.  (46)  

Furthermore, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases a lot of the stress hormone known as cortisol. This hormone causes stress and feelings of anxiety. (47)  

High levels of cortisol in the body can increase your risk of developing a number of diseases including anxiety.

 How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Young people aged 12 or 13 years should aim to get between nine and 11 hours of sleep every night. Teenagers aged 14 to 17 years should aim to get between eight and 10 hours of sleep a night. And adults should try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.  (48)   

 These Things Will Help You Deal With It

Here are a few things to try if you can’t sleep properly:

·        Take a hot bath 1.5 hours before you lay on your bed to sleep.  Research done some years ago suggested doing this can help improve the quality of sleep that a young person gets, as well as help them sleep more deeply. (49)   

·        Take 500 mg of Valerian root 30 minutes to two hours before you sleep. Some studies suggest this herbal supplement can help you sleep well. (50)   


These are some of the mindless habits that cause anxiety. By trying the tips in this article, you can lower your anxiety levels so that you will live a healthy life and also increase the likelihood of doing well in school.


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Author Bio

With over 10 years of experience in writing health and wellness articles, Isaac Nunoofio is an experienced health and wellness writer. He is a Google-certified digital marketer, Content Marketing Institute-certified content marketer, and SEO expert. He helps bloggers, websites, and health and healthcare companies to create health content, and gives others health tips at his Freelance Health Writer blog.

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