mental health patients with anxiety symptoms

Anxiety Triggers – How to Identify And Manage

An overview on anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, agitation, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and irritability. Anxiety is usually considered to be a negative emotion. But it also carries an important adaptive function that often has kept humans alive: It motivates us to get out of dangerous situations. As that feeling of anxiety stops people from making wrong decisions. For example, in our modern times, if you decide to rob a bank tomorrow, your anxiety will try to stop you. So within control, it’s a good thing. If left unchecked it can become a hindrance to your growth.

 It comes in a range of intensities from mild (a knot in your stomach), moderate (a shiver down your spine), to extreme (your heart misses a beat, or you feel sick). Technically it’s a kind of emotional pain: a signal that there is danger or risk ahead. People who experience anxiety often worry a lot about the future and tend to focus on the negatives.

Why do you get anxious?

It is not only a natural part of life, it is a reaction to a real-life event or situation. Painful situations trigger the fight or flight response in our bodies. The body prepares itself to release hormones and neurotransmitters which flood the system with a sense of urgency and threat/pull factor. This causes us to feel more fear, anxiety, and worry about future events, which worsens the situation. As you get more and more anxious the cortisol in your body builds up. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is unhealthy and has severe mental and physical consequences. That is why it is important to know what your anxiety triggers are and how to get over them.

What are anxiety triggers?

Anxiety triggers could be anything that can cause a reaction in us.  Anytime, anywhere, anyhow, these triggers can dramatically impact our lives. These reactions include fear, anger, sadness, and many more. Anxiety triggers could be any thoughts, words, or images that make you tense up. They are an important part of what causes you stress. For example, a person just got out of an abusive relationship. Anything that reminds the person of their previous relationship could be a possible trigger for them. From seeing someone that reminds them of their ex to even being at one of the restaurants that they have been on a date in the past. All these could evoke certain memories that cause stress and discomfort, leading to making that person anxious.

What can trigger anxiety?

  • Negative self-talk  
    Many that engage in negative self-talk regularly are more likely to be depressed and evoke anxiety. This is attributed in large part to the fact that their perception has been tampered with to construct an experience in which they are unable to achieve the expectations they have set for themselves. So when confronted with any situation that requires them to look into their abilities, it could trigger them to believe they aren’t good enough for the task and that could lead them to become anxious. 
  • Bullying  
    Those who experience bullying tend to develop all sorts of negative feelings. From fear to come back to their school/workplace to believing negative thoughts about themselves. All of this could induce anxiety. Many times, this could even affect one’s performance as well. That again can trigger anxiety. Those who experience bullying or might know someone who is getting bullied should take immediate action to report to the authoritative figures. If not at least confront it to someone who can help make the situation better. 
  • Rejection
    Getting rejected can be hard to deal with. Although not many will be as affected, some do take don’t take rejection well and handle the distress poorly. When someone experiences rejection, their first thoughts would go to thinking that they are incompetent. They could spiral out into such negative thoughts which can trigger anxiety. This has a lot to do with a person’s mindset and to handle this, they must recognize their line of thoughts and work with themselves. 
  • Financial stress
    Financial hardship may have a huge impact on a person’s mental health. Anxiety may be triggered by being in debt, losing a career, or getting an unstable income. Unexpected bills or financial worries may also be causes. According to a 2017 study by the American Psychological Association, about 72 per cent of Americans said they were worried over money in the previous month. Speaking to a mental health provider or a caring friend or family member may help people with financial distress.
  • Not being in control
    Wouldn’t it be amazing if everything went exactly how we want it to be? Well, unfortunately, life is unpredictable and that sort of uncertainty causes a lot of anxiety. To have something in control can be relieving to the mind. You would be able to predict and accrue the results that you want. However, when things aren’t in your control, it could cause your mind to go into a frenzy. It is very difficult to accept things many times. However, for the sake of mental peace and to avoid constantly getting triggered, it’s better to go with the flow and see how things go. If at all there is a conflict of some sort of an issue, try to resolve it then. Being worried about the future outcome can put a lot of stress on you and your well-being. 
  • Stress
    Stress can be sourced from any part of your life. From the traffic jams to your work, to losing someone important in life. Stress can cause a lot of negative impacts. It can cause behavioural changes to cope with the high amount of stress that is being thrown at. Such as resorting to alcohol or drugs, skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, etc. could only make you feel worse when experiencing anxiety. Thus, it’s important to be sure to get the help you need to be able to figure out the right coping mechanism to deal with stress. 
  • Too much caffeine
    Waking up to a good cup of coffee is a routine that many follow. However, caffeine is one of the possible reasons why one might feel more anxious. Caffeine elevates epinephrine levels in the bloodstream. One of the hormones involved in the fight-or-flight reaction is epinephrine. Excessive consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks will therefore make people feel nervous and agitated. Drinking less caffeine may help improve feelings of anxiety. To try something different, people can try a variety of decaffeinated coffee and tea that are available.

  • Dealing with new changes 
    Having something new in our lives can stir up mixed feelings. Often, anxiety is one of them as we are so unsure of what to expect. It could be anything, from having a new job, or starting a new habit, to even starting a new relationship. There could be many questions and many thoughts running around in our minds. With being so uncertain how things could turn out, one could even feel very anxious about the entire situation from the start. It’s normal to feel a little anxious in the beginning. However, if it persists and affects your day-to-day tasks, then it’s better to seek out professional help.

Identifying the triggers

People with anxiety may be unsure about how to recognize anxiety stimuli. While each person’s anxiety causes are different, there are certain things that anxiety sufferers have in common. Identifying anxiety stimuli can assist a person in developing effective coping mechanisms to successfully treat their situation. Some of the ways one could recognize their triggers are:

  • Write a journal
    Keeping track of your thoughts and feelings over time could help recognize what are the possible triggers for your anxiety. Journaling allows you to have a better understanding of yourself. Since the main idea is to be completely open with yourself and pour whatever you feel down into your book, you will be able to gain some sort of clarity. Many don’t know what could their triggers be until they begin to try to explain the situation to themselves. Once they have cleared their head, they would be able to understand and deal with their triggers accordingly. 
  • Identify the major stressors 
    Try to see if there is anything currently going on that is adding any sort of stress. It could be job changes, relocation, being pregnant, the loss of a loved one, or anything that is stressful. Recognizing these stressors is important because they could be adding more stress which could easily trigger your anxiety. Once you recognize them, you will be able to deal with them appropriately and work on yourself to be able to handle your anxiety as well. 
  • Reflection of your past 
    Sometimes, you might need to take a walk down your memory lane, and see if there was anything specific that affected you. Anxiety may be triggered by past stress. Remember how traumatic memories from the past can still be impacting you now. The sooner you work with anything that triggers you from your past, the faster you’ll be able to move on. Sometimes, self-help is enough. However, taking professional help is perfectly fine too. The main goal is to be able to put your past to rest and be able to look forward without having anything hanging you down. 
  • Talk to someone
    Perhaps seeking practisingsomeone you love could help. Not only comforting you but also help you understand what could be triggering you. Having someone trustworthy to talk to could aid in realizing your situation better. Figuring things out alone can be stressful especially if you aren’t able to understand what could be the cause of you getting triggered in the first place. 
  • Work with professionals 
    Many times, the cause of anxiety can be rooted so deeply within that we might even need professionals to help to understand them. A mental health practitioner will be able to help you trace the reason for your triggers by using combined methods in therapy. It is important to remember that seeking help when you are unable to help yourself is perfectly normal. It is always better to get the help you need and work on yourself so that you would be able to attain that mental peace. 
  • Listen to body
    As mentioned earlier, take note of the caffeine levels, or sugar, alcohol, and such. Because consuming these can cause an increase in cortisol level which can cause an increase in anxiety. Therefore, once you can clear your diet or consume them in controlled amounts, chances are that you will be able to control that feeling of anxiousness.  
  • Be honest with yourself 
    Anxiety can result in psychological distress and low self-esteem. Because of the distressed responses, determining stimuli can be difficult. Be patient with yourself and ready to dig into the experience and see how it could be affecting you now. Often there are even instances where you don’t want to admit to the reason for your triggers. Honestly, that won’t do you any good. If you try to shove the reasons to the back of your mind, you are only making it worse for yourself as you might explode one day. Which can be even more distressing. Thus, it’s better to deal with them as soon as possible and it’s important, to be honest, and accept your triggers.

Recognizing anxiety stimuli takes time and effort, but it may help a person develop effective coping strategies for treating their illness. A person can learn to deal with anxiety stimuli after they have been recognized.

How to deal with anxiety triggers?

Dealing with anxiety triggers for certain people entails immediately facing an initiating situation. Joining a public speaking group, for example, can encourage someone to obtain enough confidence speaking in front of a group that no longer causes them anxiety. Anxiety support groups or trained therapists may also assist an individual with learning how to deal with anxiety causes.  Other techniques that one could adopt to manage anxiety are:

  • Practice mindfulness 
    One of the whole purposes of practicing mindfulness is to bring your consciousness to the present. Once you can stop worrying about the past of the future, you will be able to deal with the stress that is thrown at you in a much calmer way. Practising mindfulness can take time and effort, but to develop that connection with yourself, you need to be able to sit down with yourself and focus. If not, try yoga as that involves breathing and being focused on the present. This could help reduce anxiety. 
  • Keep your mind and body healthy
    Eating healthily, getting adequate rest, exercising your body, and maintaining close relationships can take you a long way. All these can help with keeping your anxiety in control. Not only anxiety, but your overall well-being could drastically improve as well. 
  • Talk to a therapist 
    A mental health specialist will assist you in improving the system of recognizing the causes and implementing long-term interventions such as behavioural treatment and prescription. If the anxiety is caused by a previous traumatic event, for example, working through it with a professional counsellor may be beneficial. If your brain chemistry predisposes you to chronic anxiety, then you may need to take medication to control it.

Most people get anxiety attacks from time to time, which are usually triggered by a certain condition or incident. In these cases, people should use a variety of stress relief strategies to help them avoid or mitigate discomfort. Anxiety may also get in the way of everyday life, indicating that a person has an anxiety disorder. Many who suffer from chronic or serious distress should seek medical help. The specialist will be able to make treatment recommendations.

Bottom line is that having anxiety is normal. Many experience it in varying amounts and deal with it differently. It’s normal human behaviour to be a little anxious. However, it is important to keep it in control and not let it consume you. Even if it does, there are various methods to even get through. Just remember to keep yourself in check constantly. And you are practising someone not alone if you ever find yourself stuck, you can always seek to help untangle the mess that you find yourself in. Just be sure you deal with it sooner than later.

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