Do you ever experience an anxiety flare-up and not know where it came from? When anxiety catches you by surprise, it’s usually because of a trigger that you didn’t even notice.
When most people think of anxiety triggers, they imagine social situations, health problems, and financial worries. However, anxiety triggers aren’t limited to the big stuff. There are a lot of small things that trigger anxiety too, like these three surprising anxiety triggers.
It’s normal to want to talk about what’s on your mind when you’re feeling anxious and stressed out, but too much complaining could actually reinforce the negative thought patterns that made you anxious in the first place. Instead of venting to your friends or partner at the end of a long day, try to get in the habit of naming two positive things for every complaint. Over time, you’ll get better at focusing on the things you’re grateful for, rather than the things that went wrong.
For people with anxiety, alcohol can feel like a magic elixir. However, alcohol’s nerve-soothing effects don’t last for long. After the effects of alcohol wear off, you could be left feeling more anxious, not less. That’s because alcohol disturbs normal sleep patterns, hampering brain functioning so you’re more prone to anxious thoughts. If you drink, stick to one or two alcoholic drinks in an evening and avoid drinking to the point of intoxication.
Do you ever catch yourself holding your breath when you’re anxious? Odds are, your anxiety affects your breathing more than you realize. When people are feeling stressed or anxious, they tend to breathe shallowly. However, this shallow breathing can make you feel even more stressed. When you notice yourself breathing in and out through the chest, make a point to take deep breaths, filling your diaphragm with every inhale, and watch how you instantly relax.
How to Fight Anxiety in Everyday Life
There’s a lot you can do to manage anxiety in your life. To keep anxiety at bay, focus on developing a healthy lifestyle that includes good habits like eating a well-balanced diet, exercising most days of the week, and getting an uninterrupted 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you have issues setting fitness goals and staying motivated, there are many fitness apps for all types of exercise. If you’re doing any strenuous exercise with your smartphone, an armband will allow you to easily view your phone while keeping it secure.
It’s also important not to avoid anxiety triggers all of the time. Avoiding situations that make you anxious actually makes anxiety worse. While you shouldn’t put yourself in situations you can’t manage, gradually exposing yourself to anxiety triggers can help you overcome them.
When anxiety starts creeping in, use coping strategies like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and countering negative thought patterns with positive affirmations. These techniques help you calm down so an anxiety trigger doesn’t escalate to an anxiety or panic attack.
When to Talk to a Doctor About Anxiety
For many people, self-management strategies are enough to cope with occasional anxiety. However, when anxiety is persistent and starts to interfere with everyday life, you need more than coping strategies.
If anxiety is affecting your ability to concentrate, causing sleep disturbances or muscle tension, or interfering with your job or relationship, talk to your doctor about getting mental health treatment. Your doctor may prescribe medication, refer you to a therapist, or both.
Despite being common, anxiety isn’t well-understood by everyone. If you think anxiety only happens in stressful situations, it’s time to learn more about your triggers so you can get better at managing your mental health. When you know the causes behind your anxiety, you can take action to overcome them.
If stress and anxiety are causing problems in your relationship, the therapists at Couple Connect San Diego can help you manage these issues. Call 619-517-7100 to make an appointment.
Guest author Cheryl Conklin
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