Relying on caffeine
Caffeine found in coffee and energy drinks can put you on edge. “Caffeine mimics a neurotransmitter in the brain called adenosine,” says Nielsen. “Adenosine connects to nerve cells to allow them to relax in the brain. Caffeine will connect to the same receptors as adenosine, but instead of allowing the nerve cells to relax, it increases their activity. Caffeine also increases dopamine, which gives you a high, so both can trigger anxiety. When withdrawal comes, you’ll feel jittery.” To keep caffeine’s influence on anxiety at bay, keep your coffee and energy drink consumption to one or two 250ml cups per day. “When people drink Venti-sized coffees, it’s the equivalent to three or four cups of coffee,” says Nielsen.