Anxiety Disorders, Common Anxiety Triggers, and How To Cope

Anxiety disorders are a very common mental health issue affecting millions of people and manifests in so many different forms.

There is generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and a multitude of specific phobias. 

Left untreated, anxiety tends to compound and affect all areas of one’s life. Untreated anxiety disorders can also aggravate co-occurring mental health disorders. 

It’s important to recognize anxiety and to acknowledge if anxiety becomes overwhelming or starts to interfere with your relationships, personal, and/or work life. Untreated anxiety disorders eventually puts stress on the body and can contribute to physical disorders including heart disease, gastrointestinal conditions, infertility, and more. 

It’s important to know that anxiety disorders are highly responsive to treatment. If you suffer with anxiety and are willing to commit to a treatment program, you can learn to control anxiety and minimize its effect on your life. 

As there are a multitude of common anxieties, there are also many common things and events that are noted for triggering anxieties. 

I’ve included some of the most recognized triggers that may serve to help you recognize what initiates anxieties:

1. Caffeine

Topping the list, caffeine can do many things, including inducing anxiety. It can be great in small doses, though tolerance levels will vary from person to person. In some people, too much caffeine can be a trigger that worsens existing anxiety. Fortunately, it’s also an easier trigger to control. For example, some people may find their anxiety improved simply by cutting back from three to two cups of coffee. 

2. A Messy Home Environment 

A cluttered home can sometimes be an anxiety trigger because it sits at the back of your mind on your to-do list. This can cause a number of unconscious responses including insomnia, increased stress, reduced ability to focus, and more. Even a small change such as tidying up on a regular basis has the potential to reduce anxiety; but this may not be true for everyone. 

3. Self Neglect

Neglecting yourself and not taking care of your personal needs can be an anxiety trigger. Whether you’re not showering regularly, skipping meals, staying up too late or not going to the doctor, it’s important to evaluate these behaviors and work to take better care of yourself. If you are struggling with getting these tasks done, there may be more at play, such as depression, which can sometimes go hand-in-hand with anxiety. 

4. Not Enough Sleep 

Sleep, or lack thereof, is linked to a slew of mental and physical health issues, so it should come as no surprise that anxiety is one of them. While staying up later than usual on occasion likely won’t cause any harm, a lack of sleep over a long period of time can exacerbate anxiety symptoms in some. In some people, small changes such as practicing good sleep hygiene or creating a more realistic sleep schedule can make a huge difference. 

5. Stress

Unfortunately, stress is a common part of life. Even worse, it can also become a trigger for anxiety. It’s extremely difficult to control stress, which in turn makes it equally difficult to control the anxiety that results. While there are ways to reduce stress, it’s important to find a way that works best for you and your situation. 

6. Finances 

For some people, it doesn’t matter if they’re completely broke or living with a hefty cushion; finances simply cause them anxiety. While this may seem like a more challenging anxiety trigger, it can be surprisingly helpful to sit down and make a plan. Many find that having a plan, even just a simple one, can reduce their anxiety significantly. 

7. Social Gatherings 

Social anxiety is far more common than you might realize. The idea of having to interact with people, whether it be strangers, acquaintances, or even close friends, can quickly trigger anxiety. All holidays have a triggering effect on many people too. Whether there are obligations to get together with family or friends or the reverse, there are no social opportunities, holidays can be major triggers for all types of anxieties.  

8. Work Environment 

While it’s perfectly normal to deal with occasional work-related stress and anxiety. However, not normal for anxiety to be a daily part of the job over months or years. If your job or work environment is causing you stress, it may be time to work with a mental healthcare provider who can help you address and deal with the stress and anxiety that goes along with it. 

9. Conflict 

Any type of conflict can trigger anxiety, whether it’s an argument with a co-worker, your spouse, parent, child, or even some random person on the internet. Fortunately, conflict as an anxiety trigger can be addressed. By learning better conflict resolution, you can work to better manage your anxiety at the same time. 

Awareness That You May Be Dealing With Anxiety Is A First Step 

Becoming aware of the triggers associated with your anxiety can help you better cope and keep them in check. Although tens of millions of people suffer with anxiety only a small percentage of people seek professional help. Consequently, the suffering and the diminished quality of life is widespread. 

Treating anxiety is possible!

If you decide to seek treatment for your anxiety, here at Serenity Wellness & Counseling, we employ two very effective methods. 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

One of the approaches we use is called EMDR. This approach looks at the past events that led to negative beliefs about yourself and created the triggers and stressors you experience today.

Through visual and auditory cues like tapping and side-to-side eye motions, EMDR therapy can help you become more in-tune with the bodily sensations of anxiety. After all, the body is the storehouse of past trauma. Becoming more connected with it can help you work through past pain while staying grounded in the present. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

While EMDR works closely with the body, CBT is an approach we use which is more focues on the mind. The goal of CBT is to identify the negative cognitions at the root of your anxiety (e.g., “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never succeed in life”) and restructure your thoughts. Doing so can help you improve your mood and feel more confident in social situations.

We would be honored to help you overcome your anxiety and derive the greater benefits of peace, pleasure and poise from your life. 

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