How to Identify and Cope With Anxiety Triggers
Updated: Mar 30
Are you feeling overwhelmed by anxiety? You're not alone. A range of triggers can cause anxiety, and understanding them is key to effectively managing stress.
This article will help you identify anxiety triggers and equip you with the necessary tools to manage them.
Introduction to Anxiety Triggers
Anxiety triggers are situations, thoughts, or events that cause a person to feel anxious or fearful. These anxiety triggers can manifest in many ways and vary from person to person. It’s important to note that while some things can trigger anxiety in one person, they may not affect another.
These triggers can range from relatively innocuous things, such as feeling overwhelmed by work or school tasks, to more serious issues, such as being triggered by traumatic events or sensory overload.
Understanding the different types of anxiety triggers and how they affect an individual makes it possible to identify them early and develop strategies to cope with them when they arise.
The most common types of anxiety triggers fall into three categories; physical triggers (such as experiencing pain), psychological triggers (such as negative thoughts), and environmental (external) triggers (such as certain smells).
It is important to note that these categories can overlap, meaning one trigger could affect multiple areas simultaneously. For instance, a loud sound may be a physical trigger due to its effects on hearing but also act as an environmental trigger by reminding someone of a traumatic event from their past.
By recognizing the factors that commonly lead up to an influx of anxiety and fear, individuals can become more aware of the signs leading up to being triggered and thus build healthier relationships between themselves and their anxieties.
Identifying Anxiety Triggers
An anxiety trigger is any demand, event, or situation that causes an individual to feel anxious or nervous. It can be related to the environment, family, friends, social events, and even physical sensations like feeling too hot or cold. Before you can begin addressing your triggers and coping with them, it is important to take the time to identify what they are.
To start the process of identifying your triggers, record the various moments when you experience feelings of anxiety. Pay attention to both physical and mental symptoms that accompany your anxious feelings.
You may also want to note any potential triggers that occurred in the minutes before you experienced anxiety, including a sound like a dog barking or even a thought like: “I’m not good enough.”
Though it might seem overwhelming at first, this exercise will help you understand your specific triggers and how they affect you emotionally and physically—information crucial in developing a coping plan.
With time and practice, becoming aware of potential anxiety triggers can help you recognize those situations before they occur and develop strategies for managing them or redirecting your thoughts in more positive directions.
Common Anxiety Triggers
Anxiety can be triggered by many different things, with the cause often being difficult to identify. Common triggers include stress at work or school, financial problems, relationship problems, and unresolved emotional issues. In other cases, a stressful event, such as losing a loved one, might be the trigger.
It is important to recognize anxiety triggers so that they can be addressed to reduce feelings of anxiety and prevent future episodes. Here are some of the more common anxiety triggers:
Stress: Stressful situations such as conflicts between family members or friends, exams, or job deadlines can all trigger feelings of intense stress and fear, which result in an anxiety attack
Health concerns: If you are worried about your health or have pain that remains unexplained, it can generate heightened levels of worry
Change: Triggers for many people come from changes in their environment, e.g., moving home, starting a new job
Negative experiences: Past traumatic events or any negative experiences from childhood, such as abuse
Media influence: Watching violent films or extremes news reports can also have a powerful impact on an individual's mental wellbeing
Developing Coping Strategies
Developing coping strategies that can help you manage your anxiety and its triggers is important. While these strategies vary from person to person, it is recommended that you assign a few minutes a day to focus on them. This will allow you to practice different methods of obtaining relief from your anxious thoughts and behaviours.
Being mindful involves acknowledging that anxious thoughts or feelings do not need to control your life and then focusing on each present moment as it passes without judgment.
Mindfulness teaches people how to focus on being in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or ruminating about past events. It also helps bring awareness to physical experiences in the body, such as breathing, heart rate, energy levels, and tension areas.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another strategy for managing anxiety-causing situations. CBT focuses on relationship-building between people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to reduce or reframe negative beliefs about themselves or their environment. Additionally, CBT teaches relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, which can help mitigate anxiety responses when triggered by intrusive thoughts or situations.
Positive Self Talk
Positive self-talk involves speaking kindly and encouragingly to yourself when faced with challenging situations or difficult emotions; you are essentially “talking yourself down” from these trigger points.
During moments of heightened anxiety, positive self-talk may include statements like “This feeling will pass,”; “I can handle this situation,”; “I am safe right now,”; or “Everything will be okay”.
Sending yourself calming messages allows you to work through difficult times without getting overwhelmed by them emotionally or mentally.
While it may not be possible to eliminate all of your anxiety triggers, by learning how to cope with them, you can lessen their impact on your life. If you’re looking for an experienced professional to help you manage your anxiety, our team at Shlomo Radcliffe & Associates is here for you. Contact us today at 289-801-4133 to learn more.