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What Are the Causes of Anxiety From a Behavioral Perspective?

By Susan Brassard ; Updated August 14, 2017

Anxiety is a physical manifestation of thoughts and fears about the ability to manage circumstances, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Although a certain amount of anxiety is normal, when fear and worry inhibit an individual from taking steps to resolve the issue, it is important to identify the cause of the anxious feelings and take action to remedy the situation or consider a change in behavior.

Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life requires constant adjustment and is an ongoing process, according to MayoClinic.com. Time management--both at home and on the job--is a learned skill. Learning to ask for help, exercising the option to say no and taking time for personal development and self-nurture often make the difference between physical and mental health and burnout. The ability to adapt to stress fosters resilience and self esteem, two important mechanisms to avoid unnecessary anxiety, says psychiatrist and author Daniel Amen.

Lifestyle Choices

During times of stress, people often turn to unhealthy behaviors to alleviate anxiety. Negative thought patterns, a lack of exercise and consumption of empty calories often increase rather than diffuse anxious feelings and can contribute to ill health and depression. In a review of approximately 1,600 at-risk cardiovascular patients, researchers found a strong association between an unhealthy lifestyle and the degree of anxiety the patients experienced. The study appeared in the February 2005 issue of the journal “Atherosclerosis.”

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Unrealistic Goals and Expectations

High standards that are difficult to achieve are admirable, but may set a person up for unnecessary anxiety and feelings of failure. Circumstances do not cause stress, says author Andrew Berstein; rather, it is how people choose to interpret events in their lives that cause the anxiety. Psychologist Henrie Weisinger, the author of “The Genius of Instinct,” writes that people who learn to change the way they think about their problems rather than try to overcome their anxious feelings are more likely to live stress-free lives.

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