Published On: September 28, 2023
Reviewed On: September 28, 2023
Updated On: September 28, 2023
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions Americans experience — in fact, more than 40 million adults live with generalized anxiety disorder today. Unfortunately, it’s not something to take lightly, either. Anxiety can significantly impact your mental health and negatively affect your well-being, personal and professional relationships, and ability to function normally.
Understanding what triggers your anxiety is crucial for managing stress and improving your quality of life. We’re sharing some of the most common anxiety triggers here, so you can use the information to manage and overcome the impact anxiety has on your life.
Read on to learn more about what triggers anxiety and how you can cope with anxiety.
Here is a list of anxiety triggers you should be aware of:
Research shows that some medications, like birth control pills or steroids, may cause anxiety symptoms or an anxiety attack.
Consuming too much sugar or processed foods can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels and trigger anxiety.
Ignoring personal needs like hygiene, exercise, and relaxation can increase stress and anxiety.
Caffeine’s stimulant effects can exacerbate anxiety or induce anxious feelings in some people.
High-pressure work environments or unrealistic expectations have been found to increase the chance of developing intense anxiety or enhance existing symptoms.
Disagreements with friends, family members, colleagues, superiors, or partners might trigger an anxious response.
Worrying about your or a loved one’s health can result in anxious feelings about the future.
For some people, even just the thought of having to attend a social gathering or being in a social situation can provoke fear and social anxiety.
Anticipating future events, like deadlines or presentations, is a common trigger for anxiety.
Financial stressors like debt or job loss can lead to heightened anxiety levels.
The pressure to perform well in exams, interviews, and evaluations can cause worry and anxiety for most people.
In studies, chaotic living environments and excessive clutter have been found to contribute to feelings of overwhelm and anxiousness.
Significant changes and life transitions — like moving, starting a new job, ending a relationship, getting married or divorced, or having a baby — can be emotionally challenging and provoke anxiety. While it’s easy to see how adverse life events can cause anxiety, the reality is that even happy occasions can be stressful and cause unrest and stress.
We all have unique personal experiences that can cause anxious responses. Identifying our individual triggers can be critical in effectively managing mental health and anxiety.
The fear of public speaking is one of the most common sources of anxiety — in fact, some research estimates that up to 85% of people might experience anxiety when speaking in public.
Before learning to manage triggers of anxiety, you must figure out how to identify them. Managing your mental health is essential if you’re living with anxiety. Fortunately, you can identify and cope with anxiety triggers in several ways.
Expert Insight“Being able to understand what activates your anxiety can help you better manage the symptoms and develop strategies when in anxiety provoking situations. For example, knowing that talking to your boss activates your anxiety will allow you to plan ahead and use your strategies to make the conversation more manageable.”
Dealing with anxiety isn’t always going to be easy, but the right tools and coping strategies can help you become better at the process.
Using the above tips, you can figure out what triggers your anxiety. Then, you can avoid or learn to manage your triggers before they get the best of you.
Making an effort to focus on your physical health is a great way to deal with anxiety. When you work out, eat healthily, get enough sleep, and go to the doctor regularly, you’re equipped to reduce or relieve anxiety symptoms.
Meditation has been proven in countless studies to help combat anxiety. Practicing mindfulness regularly promotes relaxation, increases your self-awareness, and drastically improves your ability to respond to stress in healthier ways.
Much research has examined the link between social media and feelings of inadequacy, depression, and anxiety. Limiting how much time you spend doom scrolling can reduce or eliminate the negative emotions associated with comparing yourself or judging your life against others on social media.
Boundary setting is a powerful and effective way to address anxiety you might experience due to unhealthy or toxic relationships. Whether work-related stress or interpersonal conflicts, establishing boundaries can help you place an essential emphasis on self care and avoiding triggering situations.
Using positive affirmations — healthy and upbeat statements or thoughts you repeat to yourself — has been found to counteract negative thought patterns that might result in anxiety. Especially when practiced consistently over time, affirmations can be very beneficial in reducing anxiety symptoms.
Journaling involves writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences so you can process emotions in healthier ways. Journaling can also help you identify patterns or triggers that may be exacerbating your anxiety. It can be an effective tool in between therapy sessions and has been shown in research to help manage anxiety-related mental distress.
Exercising offers a host of mental and physical benefits. According to research, even something as simple as a brisk 10-minute walk can help relieve anxiety symptoms.
Expert Insight“Developing a wide range of coping skills is key given that anxiety can be activated in various situations. Sleep hygiene, balanced nutrition, healthy movement, grounding techniques like square breathing and healthy boundaries can all help manage anxiety symptoms. Reaching out to talk with a mental health professional is also an important source of support and guidance, you do not have to figure this out alone.”
While numerous self-help tips can help you manage your triggers of anxiety, sometimes you might need a little more. With a mental health care professional, you can work through triggers and learn to manage your anxiety in a healthy, positive, productive way.
Online therapy at Talkspace can be an excellent way to pinpoint and manage the sources and causes of anxiety in your life. Learn how to work through your anxiety and take back control — because no matter how severe your anxiety triggers are, hope and help are always there.
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Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R, BC-TMH, is a clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience as a therapist, clinical supervisor, and program director. She works to support quality clinical care at Talkspace. Her work as a clinician and trainer focuses on the mental health impact of body image concerns and eating disorders across the lifespan.