Dealing with anxiety is an ever-evolving and lifelong process. I’ve learned to no longer feel defeated when I say that. It’s a source of pride because things that trigger anxiety also offer me an opportunity for growth.
I didn’t always feel this way. My common anxiety triggers felt like a handicap in what would otherwise be an amazing life. Once I learned what triggers anxiety inside of me, I learned coping mechanisms that help me flourish every day.
The best thing about learning how anxiety is triggered is that I can now share this information with you. Approximately 31% of people will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Others will have fleeting moments of anxiety.
These tips will help everybody. Learning how to deal with your anxiety triggers is crucial for curbing racing thoughts, stopping those heart palpitations, and getting that sweat under control!
How is Anxiety Triggered?
Figuring out what can trigger anxiety is difficult because it’s a unique experience for everybody. I tend to get overly anxious while driving.
Many parts of the brain are associated with anxiety, but many studies confirm the limbic system has the most influence. Regions of the brain tied to the limbic system are responsible for our emotional responses, such as the amygdala and hippocampus.
We’ll discuss this a bit further when we talk about my common anxiety triggers. However, the limbic system sets off chain reactions that influence our hormones.
Depending on the hormones, anxiety can cause a fight-or-flight instinct. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, activating the limbic system with anxiety triggers can promote anxious behavior.
10 Things That Trigger Anxiety for Me
I have dealt with anxiety most of my life. Through my experiences, I’ve come to realize that even people who have only had one anxious episode had a trigger in common with me.
Once I figured out what can trigger anxiety within me, I was able to plan (and crush) accordingly. Here are typical things that trigger anxiety for me…and probably you, too.
1. Lack of Nutrients
We all get a little hangry and fidgety when we’re hungry. These behaviors aren’t because tacos taste delicious, and you need one right now. Sure, that’s part of it. However, your body sometimes physically needs the nutrients.
Our body does thousands of physiological processes per day. These essential tasks require a spectrum of nutrients.
When they don’t get a variety of vitamins and minerals, it throws off balance in the system. Things start slipping through the cracks, and it causes miscommunications in the brain that result in anxiety.
Unfortunately, the Western diet isn’t conducive to getting all of the essential nutrients we need to function optimally. Let’s discuss some of the foods to avoid.
What Foods Trigger Anxiety?
Anything we consume is going to have chemical reactions with the cells in our body. Other foods might cause blockages in the arteries that prevent adequate blood flow. Some might even cause allergic reactions that create inflammation.
At the end of the day, people have different reactions to different foods. That’s what makes us all so unique. However, there are a lot of typical suspects that may trigger anxiety.
Common anxiety-triggering foods include:
- Foods with Refined Sugars – Baked Goods, Soda, Ice Cream
- Foods with Unhealthy Fats (Saturated Fats, Trans Fats) – Fried Food, Potato Chips, Fast Food, and Other Processed Foods
- Too Many Omega-6 Fatty Acids – Overconsumption of Red Meat, Dairy
- Foods with Artificial Coloring – Fruit Snacks, Flavored Waters
Does that sound like you can’t eat anything? Don’t go on a hunger strike. There are plenty of nutrient-packed foods you can eat. Check out the list below for what you should integrate on your plate instead.
Foods That Help with Anxiety
The first thing I did when I decided to curb my anxiety naturally was to change my diet.
I’ve found the right balance of:
- Healthy Fats (Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated) – Wild-Caught Salmon, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tranquility Lab’s CogniDHA Omega-3 Fish Oil
- Complex Carbohydrates (Polysaccharides) – Sweet Potatoes, Fruits, Artichokes, Onions, and Garlic
- Lean Protein – Fish, Chickpeas, Chicken, Occasional Red Meat
You have to actively seek out these foods and implement them in your diet. Make healthier choices every day. Think about ways you can reduce some of the “bad foods” and where you can substitute more nourishing and satiating alternatives.
Now, don’t think that every hunger ping is for food. Sometimes you’re just dehydrated. In fact, 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst.
This mixup is detrimental. Nutrients for food isn’t the only thing our cells need. Water is necessary. It’s the mineral essential for life.
Symptoms of dehydration seem to overlap with anxiety symptoms. Both can cause dizziness, headaches, and muscle fatigue.
Not a fan of drinking water? Eat it!
Foods rich in water include:
Take the nutrition up a notch by infusing your water with lemon. Lemon water provides your body with antioxidants that can cause cell degradation that leads to anxiety. Plus, this electrolyte-rich drink is a healthier alternative to artificially colored sports drinks.
I know. It’s hard to imagine functioning without a big cup of joe to kick you in the pants. However, caffeine can also cause me to become a little too high-strung.
Caffeine is a stimulant. It makes you perform faster and clearer. I appreciate that about coffee. That’s why I go back for cup #2…and 3…and 4.
Unfortunately, cognitive improvements start to wane. What’s left is a restless leg, a clenched jaw, and an irritable personality.
Not to mention, too much caffeine can throw off your sleep cycle. Your sleep cycle is regulated by hormones. So, if the normal hormonal flow is thrown off, you’re bound to feel anxiety. That’s why I decided to cut back on coffee.
4. Relationship Issues
I love my family and friends. However, they’re a source of stress, too. That’s not always on them. I must admit part of the blame.
When you love somebody, you tend to care about them a lot. Their decisions, things that happen to them, and the people they surround themselves with all impact you.
That’s a heavy burden to carry for one person. Now, extend that concern out to your aunt, neighbor, and favorite co-worker. It’s enough to make anyone have racing thoughts and a rapid heartbeat.
Imagine compartmentalizing all of this stuff with an anxiety disorder! It’s an emotional overload!
All of these concerns can trigger anxiety prior to a social gathering, such as a bestie’s birthday party or a holiday dinner with the family. You might dread the angry banter of politics or worry about your rolling eyes when your sister talks about taking back her cheating husband.
Know your triggers and your crowd heading into an occasion. Anticipate potential anxiety triggers and come up with canned responses, conversation reverts, or exit strategies.
Coming into a potentially stressful situation with a game plan can prevent a panic attack. It can also make you feel more comfortable and confident heading into a special occasion.
5. Financial Issues
Mo’ money, mo’ problems? Not having money is a big enough problem!
Let’s be real. The economy is always changing. The richest of corporations have gone bankrupt. What’s to stop any of us from becoming unemployed tomorrow?
That potentially looming danger is always in the back of my mind. It’s like white noise chattering in my brain. Every day I open the mailbox, there’s a bill to remind me just how important having a steady income might be.
One of the ways I’m coping with financial stress is to plan ahead. I’ve started documenting my main monthly expenses and factor in some savings.
Whatever is leftover is my fun money. If I have fun money leftover, I bank it. Being prepared is key to stopping anxiety triggers. Having savings to fall back on can save you from experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack when the car needs a transmission, or you need to replace a refrigerator.
Also, I stopped with the frivolous spending. I’ve started cooking at home more often, cut down on unnecessary streaming subscriptions, and began exercising at home. Little changes to my routine make me feel better emotionally, physically, and financially.
6. Sleep Problems
We’re awake most of the day. During those hours, our body is busy keeping this machine going. It’s fighting off viruses from taking over healthy cells, contracting muscles that keep us walking, and firing the brainpower we use to make money.
At the end of the day, you think you need sleep? Your BODY needs you to get sleep even more. It’s done putting out your fires. Now, it’s time for your body to do its real work.
When you sleep, your heart rate naturally slows. That is already extremely beneficial for those who experience faster heartbeats as a symptom of anxiety.
Also, your brain waves slow down. For someone who has scattered thoughts all day, your brain craves this downtime!
Lastly, your body produces reparative hormones during slumber, such as:
- Prolactin – Regulates Stress Responses, Helps Metabolize Vitamin D
- Luteinising Hormone – Regulates Reproductive Hormones
- Growth Hormone – Influences Learning, Cognition, Memory
Many of these hormones are regulated and influenced by our limbic system. Told you to remember it!
As outlined in each bullet point above, a lack of these hormones can result in anxiety. Your body depends on them. Therefore, it depends on sleep!
One of the primary culprits of sleep deprivation is too much cortisol. When we’re under too much stress, our body creates an excessive amount of this hormone, which leaves less room for hormones like melatonin.
If you have trouble sleeping, don’t reach for over-the-counter sleep-aids. Those can become habit-forming and ineffective with repeated use. Instead, opt for all-natural supplements like Tranquility Labs’ Sleep-Fast.
Sleep-Fast is a quick-acting melatonin spray. A couple of sprays before bed, and I start to feel relaxed within 15 minutes. Using this supplement has helped me get my normal sleep cycles back on track.
7. Past Trauma
We all have a history. Some of us are still dealing with the repercussions of past incidents. Certain situations might evoke emotions that stir up what triggers anxiety for you.
Examples of trauma being the root of anxiety trigger include:
- Dating After a Sexual Assault
- Seeing a Car Accident After Surviving One
- A Friend Losing a Parent After You Did
- Going to an ATM When You’ve Been Robbed in the Past
- Doctor Checkups After Remission
- Starting a New Job After Being Laid Off
Our trauma shapes who we are. Even the most challenging situations are opportunities for growth. The best way to get over past trauma is to confront it.
Go through all the emotions. Decipher the event and fall out. Determine which scenarios bring up these negative feelings. Then, try to figure out ways to cope with these incidents in the future. The purpose of healthy memories is to help us deal with the future.
Of course, you should seek counseling from a professional for even more effective and personalized coping mechanisms. In the meantime, work on deep breathing techniques in case this practice is too intense.
8. Fear of the Unknown
There is no rule book for life. That can be very stressful for an anxious person to grasp. We like to know what to expect in every situation possible!
The fear of the unknown covers so much ground. For instance, losing a job can be a scary reality check. You start to wonder where the next paycheck will come from and if your skills are up to par with others competing for a job.
Cold feet before a wedding, nerves before a doctor’s visit, or feeling lost when you start college are all common anxiety triggers that link back to fear of the unknown.
9. No Reason At All
Sometimes we don’t have a reason to feel anxious. We just are. There might be a mixture of things going on.
Anxiety can be hereditary. It might also be caused by an underlying condition you don’t know about. Perhaps there’s a relationship bothering you that you weren’t conscious of?
Whatever the case might be, you can only take things one step at a time. If something underlying is going on, it needs to be addressed.
The goal is to focus on combating things that trigger anxiety. Then, you will operate with a clearer mind. In those moments, you can then get to the bottom of any physical or mental issues that might be triggering bouts of anxiety.
10. Long-Term Effects of Medication
The long-term use of medications can also perpetuate anxiety. As I detailed through my journey with benzos, many medications can become habit-forming. Addiction alone is enough to trigger anxiety.
I’m trying to counteract my dependency on medications by changing my diet and supplements. I’ve already gone over some of the dietary changes. As for supplements, I really enjoy Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene.
Tranquilene is fortified with all-natural ingredients that promote the production of GABA and serotonin. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. It interacts with our amygdala in the limbic system to prevent stress and cortisol production.
Serotonin helps with our sleep-wake-cycle. Our body produces more when we’re waking up to counteract the melatonin that caused us to get sleepy.
Using Tranquilene has helped with my focus and quieted some of the chatter that causes me to procrastinate throughout the day. In turn, I’m less likely to feel the crunch when deadlines loom.
How to Deal With Your Anxiety Triggers
Learning how to deal with your anxiety triggers is just as unique as recognizing what those triggers are in the first place! I’ve given some tips for each scenario I encountered that worked for me.
With that said, you can do a few general things to help with a variety of anxiety triggers. Consider these tips as “maintenance for the whole.” Some of these everyday hacks can help with the onslaught of common anxiety triggers.
Keep An Anxiety Journal
Every time you feel anxious, write it down. Go into detail what you were doing and thinking about leading up to experiencing symptoms.
Keeping a journal is essential for seeking patterns. Through journaling, you’ll realize that your job is draining you, that you have doubts about your skills, or that your best friend is toxic.
Once you see the patterns, it’s time to address them. Use the same journal to concoct a plan to correct this anxiety trigger.
Be Honest and Open to Changes
There’s a lot of ugly truths to our anxiety. Sure, trauma and losing your job are beyond your control. However, some of your anxiety triggers are caused by your own behaviors.
Go back to the section about what foods trigger anxiety. Are these part of your diet? Think about people who make you anxious. Is your behavior causing them to act aggressively to you?
There are two sides to every story, even when the other subject of the stay is an anxiety trigger. See what your role is in your own anxiety.
Once you’re honest with yourself, you’ll be more open to change. With the change, you will experience more happiness.
Look At Your Inner Circle
You are the company you keep. People run off on us and we start to adopt their thinking and behavior.
If someone is always letting you down, starting a fight, or draining your energy, let them go. Focus your time and energy on people who enrich your life and lift you up.
Obviously, you can’t ghost your mom. In these more fragile relationships, you must learn to set healthy boundaries.
First, try being honest. If they’re doing things that trigger anxiety, let them know. Anyone who loves you shouldn’t want to enable such pressure in your life.
Otherwise, you might need to do workarounds. Invite people who calm you down to events with the person in question. In worst-case scenarios, cut back on how often you correspond. It seems cold, but it might be essential for your mental well-being.
Speak to a Therapist
Over 40 million people have an anxiety disorder. You’re not alone. So, don’t go through this alone.
There are trained professionals who are capable and willing to help you. They can help you unearth unknown triggers in your life. Plus, they can give you live-action responses for coping with your triggers.
Also, a therapist can let you know if you need to see a psychologist. There might be a more pressing mental health issue going on. Getting a professional opinion can help sort it out.
Supplements are an easy way to ensure your body is getting the wide variety of nutrients it requires. The standard American diet is just as sad as its acronym. Even eating healthy foods still might not give you the spectrum of nutrition necessary for optimal brain health.
That’s why I started taking CogniDHA. It helps offset some of the negative effects of omega-6-heavy foods I still eat. Omega-3-rich fish oil helps preserve grey matter by providing it with amino acids needed to build healthy brain tissue. However, it also curbs inflammation caused by an omega-6 heavy diet.
When I’m feeling restless, I turn to Sleep-Fast. Since I’ve started using it, my sleep cycle has regulated. I don’t even use it every night. Since it’s a spray, it’s fast-acting, which is perfect for those now-rare nights where I toss and turn.
Lastly, Tranquilene is my go-to for everyday wellness. It has a laundry list of Ayurvedic botanicals and essential vitamins and minerals conducive for lowering stress, improving focus, and curbing anxiety. Tranquilene keeps me grounded all day long.
Conquer What Triggers Anxiety for You
Anxiety may affect us but it doesn’t define us. We can’t let this disorder dictate what makes us happy.
I’ve let anxiety ruin birthday parties, vacations, and holidays. It’s tiring. That’s why I decided to change my life through diet, supplements, and therapy.
The first step in reclaiming my mental health was to figure out how anxiety is triggered. Once I knew my common anxiety triggers, I planned for them.
Some of these tips required practice and adapting to new routines. Now, these changes are part of my healthy lifestyle. They can be part of yours, too.
- Common anxiety triggers are different for everyone
- You must know the things that trigger anxiety in you
- Create a plan to counteract these triggers
- Make changes to your daily routine to promote healthy hormone production