Feeling anxious? You may have a lot to worry about, but one thing you can cross off your list of concerns is that you’re not overreacting.
Between our daily mini-stresses to global pandemics and national tensions, there’s a lot going on in our lives. It’s understandable that almost everyone feels anxiety occasionally.
However, more than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from something called an anxiety disorder. If you have this condition, it means anxiety is front and center in your day most of the time.
It can affect your relationships with family and friends, your work and academic performance, and your health. But you can control your anxiety instead of allowing it to control you.
Use these tips to recognize the most common anxiety triggers and learn how to manage them.
1. Health Worries
Hearing a scary medical diagnosis, either your own or that of a loved one’s is enough to trigger anxiety into overdrive. The condition itself, fear of loss, and possible pain are all real problems.
Recognize that a health issue is a probable anxiety trigger, then find ways to try to proactively control your reaction. Talk to the doctor and discuss the treatment options. Meet with a therapist who can teach you strategies for coping with the condition and any results. They’ll help you to pinpoint and handle your emotions, too.
2. Financial Woes
This trigger affects nearly everyone, whether they’re poor or rich. It can seem like we never have enough money, and there’s always something to save for on the horizon.
The best way to get a handle on a problem that seems like it’s out of control, like money, is to know your expenses and income. Stick to a tight budget if necessary, and work on building that nest egg.
If possible, get a side job or do some online surveys to make a few extra bucks—anything to feel like you’re taking action.
When your money anxieties rear their ugly heads, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
3. Caffeine Jitters
Are you a caffeine addict? Millions of people rely on a jolt of coffee or another caffeine product to get through the day. They’ll joke about their “caffeine addiction,” but for people with anxiety, it could be making their problem worse.
Caffeine has ingredients in it that trigger anxiety. You’ve felt the effects if you’ve ever gotten the caffeine jitters. They’re part of the cycle of drinking too much caffeine and not eating enough food or getting enough sleep.
But in people who already have a tendency to get anxiety, the jitters become anxiety triggers instead.
4. Too Much Stress
When it comes to how much stress is too much, there isn’t a magic threshold we can see we’re getting too close to before we crash. Some people are able to handle stress easier than others, and that’s fine.
On the other extreme, those who traditionally are able to carry heavy burdens sometimes find it’s the light feather that breaks their back. One small stress, like hitting a red light when you’re running late, can trigger an anxiety attack.
If you know you’re going through a lot of stress for any reason, try to be proactive about what you let yourself take on next. Learn how to set boundaries and say no. It may be hard at first, but the peace you’ll find soon after the first growing pains will make it all worthwhile.
Certain prescription and OTC meds include anxiety as a side effect. If you’re on medication, check the fine print to see if what you’re feeling could be a physical symptom caused by something in the medicine.
Anxiety is a very common side effect of hormonal birth control meds, weight loss pills, and some cold medications. It also goes hand-in-hand with opiate use.
You aren’t stuck with dealing with the way your meds make you feel. Talk to the doctor to see if there’s a different alternative.
6. Routine Upheavals
Are you a creature of habit? Do the little blips in your schedule irritate you?
If so, a major change could go beyond annoying and trigger your anxiety. Even good changes, like getting married, buying a house, or having a baby, are massive shifts in your comfortable routine.
Since you know you already have a comfort zone preference, and any changes upset your balance, pay attention when big things happen. Any time you start a new job or do anything that upsets your routine, your anxiety could be nearby.
Knowing a trigger is on the horizon gives you the time you need to prepare for an attack and try to prevent it before it happens.
As tensions in the world rise and the pace of life gets even more hectic, the number of people with anxiety disorder increases.
You may not be able to get rid of your anxiety completely, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it control of your life. It’s a condition that can be managed if you recognize your triggers and know how to handle them.