Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. However, not all those with a diagnosis share the same anxiety triggers.
In the United States alone, approximately forty million adults – or eighteen percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder. However, these numbers come as no surprise to most people.
The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our sense of responsibility.) In fact, our society built a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that permeates our schools, businesses, and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed, most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. Of course, this expectation only exacerbates the problem.
“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” specific symptoms or conditions can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a sign or episode.
Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that are known to induce anxiety symptoms and anxiety conditions. We hope that, by understanding what provokes anxiety, we can better mitigate any adverse consequences.
Here are ten common anxiety triggers that we need to avoid:
Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice.
It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you.
It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room.
The only one you can hear.
Consumption of alcohol, as it relates to the onset of anxiety, is a “Catch-22.” After a period of dealing with stress and its related stressors, some will turn to booze to calm themselves down.
As a depressant, alcohol can “accomplish” this task – but only temporarily. After this initial period, alcohol becomes the catalyst for anxiety – and this is the actual danger in relying upon the substance to ease anxious thoughts and feelings.
Finding a more constructive and sustainable outlet is strongly recommended by medical professionals.
2. Inadequate nutrition/diet
Our brain is a “hungry” organ in that it requires specific nutritional components – at adequate levels – to function correctly. Further, as the brain uses up much of our body’s resources (i.e., energy), our gray matter must receive said nutritional components in the right amounts.
A typical “Western Diet” is heavily processed, lacking nutritional value to provide for the brain and body sufficiently. According to Dr. Eva Selhub, Contributing Editor at Harvard University’s Health Publications:
“…studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to the typical “Western diet” and have shown that the risk of (mental illness) is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet.”
Nutritionists, dietitians, and other health professionals recommend minimizing the consumption of processed foods and increasing the amount of whole, natural foods we eat.
3. Anti-social behavior
Depending on one’s personality, the desire to engage with fellow human beings can fittingly range on a scale of 1 to 10. Introverts, for example, require sparse social interaction, while extroverts require social interaction as a means of energy and motivation.
Secluding oneself to the extreme, however, can cause some unintended consequences. Too much solitude, particularly for introverts, can result in some serious overthinking – a prelude to an anxiety episode.
This is a highly individualistic and subjective recommendation, but we should seek some social outlet to better our mental health.
4. Certain sensory inputs
Certain lights smells, or sounds can (sometimes, inexplicably) negatively affect our state of mind. In addition to being an annoyance, they cause a stress reaction – and, more specifically, an anxiety reaction.
Noise, especially loud or blaring sounds, can activate and heighten the activity within the amygdala – a part of the brain responsible for the “fight or flight” response. Smells and sounds are much more nuanced but trigger anxiety in some.
Understanding and accepting the notion that certain stimuli can provoke an anxiety response, we are better equipped to manage our environment.
The determination to push ourselves and create a better life is a respectable trait. However, some individuals possess a drive that – at a certain point – becomes more of a liability than an asset. Such folks do not “live in the moment” of any marked success but instead succumb to the “next big thing.”
Constantly working to achieve this “next big thing” can alter brain chemistry to where any perceived “setback” can ignite a sense of anxiety.
Practicing mindfulness, meditation or gratitude can help keep things in perspective.
6. Lack of sleep
Sleep is essential to the normal functioning of the brain. When we deprive ourselves of this vitally-important state, many unintended consequences can surface. This includes, of course, adverse psychological outcomes.
Lack of sleep often leads to an inability to sleep, aka insomnia. Ultimately, our mental and physical health suffers as a result.
If getting a good night’s rest becomes a consistent problem, you must seek medical advice.
7. Low blood sugar
The brain is a hungry organ; it requires a steady supply of glucose and other nutrients to function correctly. We’re susceptible to diabetes-like symptoms – shakiness, dizziness, weakness, etc.
Furthermore, low blood sugar creates unnecessary stress for the brain. As a result, the brain will perceive this inadequacy as a threat, which can trigger an anxiety episode.
The solution is to consult a physician, nutritionist, or another expert who can recommend a dietary regimen that benefits your unique needs.
8. Poor stress management
Without an excellent ability to manage stress, we’ll quickly succumb to anxiety triggers – both internal and external. Stress creates and exacerbates thoughts and feelings of anxiety, making stress management a priority for those who desire to alleviate anxiety and its associated symptoms.
Practicing mindfulness and deep breathing can help in dealing with these triggers.
9. Negative thought patterns
Negative thoughts breed negative thoughts, the consequences of which can be devastating. As necessary, negative thought patterns tend to worsen over time, resulting in a negative spiral that some cannot manage to get out of.
Positive activities can counteract some or all of the anxiety experienced due to such thought patterns. Sports, meditation, or yoga are all activities that can reduce negative and anxious thought patterns.
10. Loss of direction
Those who once had “a vision” for their life – and (realistically or perceivably) saw this vision crumble – are prone to experiencing high levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
These folks tend to be highly competitive and goal-oriented individuals. Therefore, losing your sense of purpose is devastating. Similarly, others who “lose their way” tend to experience bouts of anxiety.
Indeed, mindfulness, meditation, and practicing gratitude can help put things in perspective. Practice sitting in silence consistently. As a result, you may find the ever-elusive answer to this complicated problem.
These Habits Help You Avoid Your Anxiety Triggers
1. Poor health triggers anxiety
Your physical health can impact your mental health. Poor health causes you to feel lethargic, be tempted to overeat, and to feel depressed. Therefore, it limits your ability to work and go to school. Living day in and day with poor health could be one of your hidden anxiety triggers.
2. Too much alcohol
Alcohol is a known depressant. Large amounts of alcohol can cause feelings of sadness and depression. While drinking alcohol, people have reported that they sometimes feel nervous and anxious. So the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you will develop temporary anxiety and depression symptoms.
3. Poor diet
Your diet is an essential factor in your mental health. What you eat impacts your body, but a poor diet also hurts you mentally. There’s a clear connection between what you eat and the risk of depression. Studies show that a healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of depression and its side effects.
Dehydration is another one of the anxiety triggers you may have overlooked. Water, in many ways, is a nutrient for your brain. Not drinking enough water causes your brain to work slower and not function properly. If you’re feeling anxious, try drinking extra water to see if it helps you feel better.
5. Lack of sleep
Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Anxiety and sleep disorders go together. Sleep deprivation makes you prone to worry, fear and sadness. Even people who don’t usually experience anxiety have feelings of anxiety when they’re sleep-deprived.
6. Negative thoughts
Your negative thoughts could be one of your anxiety triggers. If your thoughts are rooted in pessimism, it will negatively affect your mental health and how you feel. It’s easy to allow negative thoughts to repeatedly cycle through your mind until you feel anxious and depressed. Breaking the negativity is key to letting go of your negative thoughts.