Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. There are unexpected situations that leave us feeling anxious sometimes.
Then there are those who are diagnosed with one or more forms of anxiety disorders. With anxiety disorders, it can be hard to spot what triggered the anxiety to begin with.
But you’re not alone! Anxiety is one most common mental health disorders in the United States.
This means approximately 40 million or 19% of the population has an anxiety disorder.
If you suffer from anxiety it can be helpful to learn about your triggers. How to recognize anxiety triggers is the first step to reducing anxiety and panic attacks.
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How To Recognize Anxiety Triggers
Before you begin to understand what’s triggering your anxiety, it can be helpful to know what anxiety looks like.
While anxiety symptoms vary for each individual, there are common symptoms of anxiety to recognize.
Common symptoms include:
- Sweating more than usual
- Feeling trapped
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle tension
If you experience any of these symptoms regularly, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder nor just occasional or situational.
These symptoms can stem from other medical conditions as well, so it can be helpful to talk to your doctor.
If all other medical issues are ruled out, you’ll want to consider anxiety as the cause. Once you’ve learned you are dealing with anxiety, the next step is to understand why it’s happening to you.
Let’s take a look at some common anxiety triggers before identifying your personal triggers.
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Common Anxiety Triggers
There are common anxiety triggers many people experience. The following list are some common anxiety triggers that may contribute or cause your anxiety. It’s important to rule these triggers out one-by-one to possibly eliminate the root cause of your anxiety.
- Health conditions -Chronic illnesses like cancer that worsen over time also worsen anxiety due to extreme stress.
- Caffeine – Too much caffeine can induce anxiety symptoms, including increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, and nervousness.
- Crowded places – Too many people in a small space can make you feel claustrophobic or confined. Parties, social events, and other gatherings can also worsen anxiety symptoms – especially if you are used to being isolated at home and now getting back into social gatherings.
- Medications – It is possible for over-the-counter and prescribed medication to cause anxiety. It’s best to always ask your doctor about over-the-counter and prescribed medications to rule out any possibility that may be causing anxiety symptoms.
- Stress – Extra stress brings on anxiety. It can also contribute to other behaviors that worsen your anxiety, like skipping meals, caffeine consumption, or consuming alcohol.
How to Identify Personal Anxiety Triggers
You may experience some common anxiety triggers, but anxious feelings can arise in people for many other reasons not related to health conditions.
It’s essential you learn how to recognize anxiety triggers so that you can manage anxiety symptoms for when your anxiety is triggered in the future.
Look To The Past
The past is a great place to start looking at personal anxiety triggers. There may be events that happened to you in the past that are causing your anxiety. Individuals with PTSD, a form of anxiety especially notice anxiety that’s triggered by past traumatic events.
These events do not have to be situations that are only caused by war. Anxiety from the past can be triggered by past sexual, mental, and physical abuse.
Notice Your Anxiety Symptoms
Start doing daily mental check-ins. Recognize when you start experiencing increased heart rate, restlessness, irritation, heavy breathing, racing thoughts, and feelings of panic.
Now ask yourself: “What was I doing before the anxiety occurred?”
Sometimes, though these feelings will seem to arise out of nowhere. When this happens, you need to rephrase the mental check-in question. Instead of asking “What you were doing before the anxiety?”…
“What was I thinking before the anxiety symptoms started?”
These questions will help you think back on what you were doing or what you were thinking to help you to figure out how to recognize anxiety triggers.
A substitute for doing mental check-ins is journaling each day. Writing your thoughts and feelings down when anxiety arises is a purposeful way to notice patterns of your anxiety triggers.
Keeping a journal and writing in it purposefully each day for even10 minutes a day will release negative feelings from your head and allow you to visually see how your anxiety manifests.
It’s helpful to journal every day regardless of whether you’re anxious at the time or not. The thought processes can help you recognize anxiety causes.
Speaking with a therapist who specializes in mental health disorders like anxiety disorders can be the best way for you to identify anxiety triggers. Therapists can ask questions to help guide you to new ways of thinking for handling anxious moments, calming panic attacks, and identifying anxiety triggers.
To read more about working with a therapist and the benefits of therapy itself, check out this article on 7 Benefits Therapy Can Give You!
Listen To Your Body
Take note of times when you feel anxious, and how your body is affected. Do you experience increased anxiety after a day of eating unhealthy? How does your anxiety feel before and after caffeine consumption?
Or your sleeping habits could be affecting how agitated or anxious you become during the day.
Be Honest With Yourself
It can be difficult to look inward when trying to identify anxiety triggers. Honestly, most people would rather choose not to deal with them. But avoidance does not help triggers, nor your mental health as a whole.
Try to be as honest as possible with yourself! Try sharing with an understanding friend, family member, or therapist how you are feeling and what may lead to anxious thoughts.
Learning how to recognize anxiety triggers can help you overcome symptoms and negative thoughts. It can also help you with preventing anxiety in the future.
The most important thing is to keep an open mind when identifying anxiety triggers. Until you specifically pinpoint what triggers your anxiety, you need to keep an open mind and look at all the possibilities there could be.
Know that you are not alone with anxiety, and it’s okay to reach out to others around you and licensed therapists to talk through anxiety issues. Furthermore, it’s important to also get in touch with those who also suffer from anxiety disorders because it makes you feel less alone!