It seems like everyone is touting the importance of learning what triggers your anxiety. And it’s for a good reason. When you know the emotions, events, stimuli, and experiences that cause or worsen your anxiety, you have more information to manage how you feel. Yet identifying your triggers is not an easy task. Therefore, in this article, we’ll discuss everyday anxiety triggers many people experience to help you build your awareness and empower your healing journey. Let’s dive in!
11 Everyday Anxiety Triggers and How to Cope with Them
We are creatures of habit, and any change in our home or work environment can intensify our vulnerability to anxiety, especially if they’re unexpected and challenging. For example, losing a loved one, losing a stable job, experiencing the end of a relationship, or becoming a parent are all situations that can trigger anxiety. So, when this happens, take a moment to reflect on how you feel. A wonderful tool for this is RAIN meditation.
- R: Recognize what is happening by identifying how you feel ( I feel sad, angry, confused, etc.)
- A: Accept and allow the thoughts and feelings to be there (It’s okay to feel this way)
- I: Investigate the present moment with kindness (Why do I feel this way?)
- N: Nurture with loving awareness (What can I do to feel better?)
Stress seems to affect us everywhere, at work, in a traffic jam, waiting in line…it’s challenging to escape. And while this is often the case, it’s also important to learn how to address and manage it before it becomes overwhelming. Therefore, when you feel your stress coming on, take a few moments to practice a breathing technique for anxiety. For example, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest, and feel your hands rise and fall as you inhale and deepen your exhale. It will calm your nervous system and ground you.
3. Limited sleep
Sleep and anxiety have a tricky relationship. For example, not only does excess worry make it challenging to fall asleep, but you may also experience anxiety about not falling asleep. So before you find yourself trapped in this cycle, create a relaxing sleep routine. Limit your phone use at least two hours before bed, take a hot shower, follow a guided meditation for sleep, and roll on your favorite calming essential oil.
It’s not surprising that financial concerns are one of the top everyday anxiety triggers. Understandably, we need it for survival, and lacking it can trigger severe anxiety. But while the money you receive may feel out of your control, how you respond to this stress isn’t. For example, if you’re in debt, don’t avoid the looming problem. Instead, reach out to a financial advisor at your bank to get ahead of it and receive advice. Avoiding your financial concerns can lead to far-reaching implications in your life.
5. Negative self-talk
We’ve all experienced those moments when it feels like our inner critic is winning and we’re stuck in a thought trap. Somehow a mistake at work turns into a replay of “You’re not good enough“, “Everything is your fault“, etc. Yet the more we feed our minds with these statements, the more our anxiety intensifies. Therefore, one of the best ways to limit the chatter is by challenging it. For example, examine the evidence, and ask yourself if you would judge someone else for the same mistake. Chances are, you wouldn’t.
Does the thought of being in a room full of strangers make your palms sweat and your heart beat really fast? You’re not alone. Yet while social anxiety certainly feels horrible, the solution is not to avoid situations that cause it. Instead, gradually ease yourself through them one step at a time. For example, instead of going to a party immediately, go out with one friend at a time and then increase the size as you start to feel better. It will reduce the fear in time.
Not showering, eating regularly, exercising, sleeping, or prioritizing self-care are all forms of self-neglect. And each one of these examples negatively affects our mental health as a result. Yet, it’s overwhelming to try to tackle these all in one go. Therefore, make a list and circle the area you feel you’re neglecting the most. Then create a strategy with a few steps to improve it. For example, if you’re neglecting nutrition, begin meal planning, buying easy-to-grab and healthy snacks, and setting timers to follow a regular diet.
8. Work environment
Tight deadlines, gossip, expectations, pressure, lack of support, poor work/life balance, commutes, and at-home distractions make the work environment a breeding ground for anxiety. So, it’s exceedingly important to prioritize self-care and set boundaries to help you manage stress. For example, if tight deadlines are causing severe overwhelm, speak with your boss and present or ask for a better system. Setting healthy boundaries helps you navigate toxic situations to benefit you and your mental health.
9. Home clutter
Ever hear of the saying, “A messy room leads to a messy mind“? It’s true. A cluttered physical environment creates more than daily disruptions. In fact, it causes your anxiety levels to spike. So, take the minimalist approach but start small. For example, pick one room and create two piles; trash and donation. Tackling the clutter slowly with intention will decrease the overwhelm.
10. Health issues
Ongoing or new health problems can exacerbate existing anxiety. Indeed, anxiety thrives on things out of our control by replaying worst-case scenarios. So, to ease the worry, keep in regular contact with your doctor, take a holistic approach (exercise, follow a healthy diet, meditate, prioritize sleep, connect with nature, etc.), and consider speaking with a mental health professional to manage how you feel. Each step to cope with your physical health and anxiety will provide a sense of calm amid a challenging situation.
You may not realize it, but your coffee runs can actually worsen your anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant and activates your fight-flight-or-freeze response. So, if you’re already vulnerable to anxiety, its jittery effects can make you feel overly alert and panicky. To limit your caffeine intake, drink Matcha, green juice with spirulina, or black tea instead. Each swap provides an energy boost without the anxious aftermath.
Learning about everyday anxiety triggers and more importantly, your personal triggers helps you build your emotional response, emotional regulation, and self-awareness to empower your healing. But remember, overcoming and coping with anxiety is not an overnight fix. It is a process. So pivot with self-compassion and self-forgiveness to aid your journey.
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