The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” In extreme cases, severe anxiety can even cause chest pains and panic attacks. Anxiety is becoming more common as various factors trigger this feeling. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint what is causing it exactly, but there are definitely provoking situations that can be accounted for.

Knowing the most common things that stimulate your anxiety will help you avoid, or at least manage it.

1. Mental conditions

Various mental conditions can certainly trigger anxiety. Some examples are phobic disorders, stress disorders, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety. It’s crucial that these conditions are managed because they are more difficult to avoid compared to external anxiety triggers. As these are usually diagnosed disorders, it’s always best to see professional help. This Life Psychology clinic can guide individuals going through these conditions.

2. Medications

There are several medications, whether over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed, that can trigger anxiety. These medicines contain ingredients that can make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. If you are taking birth control pills, weight loss pills, acetaminophen, corticosteroids, ADHD drugs, and asthma medications, it’s highly possible that you can be easily irritated or anxious without any particular reason.

Here’s what you need to do if you suspect that medications are causing you distress:

  • List down all the medicines that you take in a journal. Note when you took it, and write down episodes of anxiety. You can observe this for at least a week so that you can present it to your doctor.
  • Consult your doctor and talk about what you’ve been feeling and ask if the medicines can be switched.
  • Seek help from a nutritionist for a diet plan that includes anxiety-reducing food that won’t conflict with your medications. Fatty fish like salmon, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and nuts are some examples of these food.

3. Stress

Stress is a very broad term, but it’s definitely a significant anxiety trigger. Stress can fall into daily stressors like traffic jams and daily commutes, to more serious ones like financial concerns, work stress, relationship issues, school pressures, and more. It’s essential that you learn how to manage these stressors because chronic stress will cause long-term anxiety and even physiological health problems.

Here are a few stress-management techniques:

  • Make time to get more sleep.
  • Participate in regular physical activity like regular exercise.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like guided meditations.
  • Create a stress journal where you can jot down what triggered the stress, what you did about it, who you were with, and how you felt so that you will better understand how to cope in the future.
  • Learn how to manage your time so that you won’t have to juggle everything at once.
  • Work on saying “no” when you have too much on your plate.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
  • Lessen your caffeine intake.

4. Past experiences

It’s no doubt that a person is made up of their past experiences combined with their coping mechanisms and current situations. If anyone has past or even childhood experiences that have been bottled up and not managed appropriately, then these can become roadblocks in the present and trigger anxiety.

They can come as flashbacks, hindrances to opportunities, and even low self-esteem. The best way to deal with past experiences is to seek psychological help so that these emotions can be laid on the table with someone outside the experience and be managed effectively.

5. Social events

Many individuals don’t find social events and parties entirely fun. If you’re one for those who get anxious with the thought of talking to strangers or people that you don’t know, you are not alone. It’s vital that you know how to cope in these situations because there will be times that you will be obligated to attend these gatherings.

Social anxiety can be helped by:

  • Determining exactly what triggers your anxiety – going to the party itself, not knowing anyone, not being “likable” by the crowd, and so on. Evaluating these situations can sometimes make you feel that it’s not as bad as you anticipate it would be.
  • Bringing a friend or companion whenever you can.
  • Practicing what makes you anxious until the feeling goes away.
  • Thinking of the worst-case scenario. Most anxiety happens in the mind than in actual situations, so identify the worst thing that could happen and think of how you’ll deal with it.
  • Seeking professional help, especially in severe anxiety cases, so that you can be guided with cognitive behavior therapy.

Final thoughts

Anyone can experience anxiety in triggering situations. As long as you’re able to identify these triggers, like those listed above, then you will be a step ahead in managing them. It’s normal that you feel anxious at certain times, but learning how to cope with them is the key to ensure that you won’t fall into the trap of your negative thoughts.