Why am I feeling this way?

What is Anxiety? I am sure you have heard the term “I am so anxious” or “I have anxiety” but do we really know what anxiety truly is? Anxiety is the mind and body’s physical and mental reaction to stress, unfamiliar situations, and even dangerous situations. Anxiety can be a sense of dread, uneasiness, distress, or worry that you are feeling about a certain event or activity. Anxiety is more normal than you may think. Over half the population struggle with Anxiety. To understand anxiety, you have to realize it serves a specific purpose. Anxiety is not always a bad thing. Anxiety is there to help us and protect us. It is our body’s way of saying “hey something does not feel right here, or I am unsure about this”. It is our body’s way of warning us of what? Anxiety warns us to not touch a hot stove or walk out into the middle of traffic. That being said, our anxiety can also get out of control and we may think there is danger in situations that are not dangerous. Thankfully, anxiety is treatable and is something that can be managed in a healthy way.

So, what triggers anxiety? What pushes that anxiety button? The broad answer is everything and anything can trigger anxiety. Here are 5 different possible triggers for anxiety and ways you can possibly cope with these triggers.

 

Being in social situations

Social anxiety can also be called social phobia and typically includes feelings of being self-conscious and having a concern about being judged by peers in social situations. Some anxiety symptoms include sweaty palms, fast breathing, fast heart rate, and having the feeling of a heavy chest. You might feel these feelings at just the thought of going to a social situation as well. Having social anxiety might mean that you typically try to avoid social situations altogether. If you struggle with this certain trigger, then it might be helpful to bring a friend or family member who can help keep you calm. You can also start by going to smaller gatherings and work your way up to larger events.

 

Taking medications

When it comes to medication, substance induced anxiety can be caused by stopping or taking certain medications. This can include stimulants, steroids, birth control pills, decongestants, cough and congestion medication, and weight loss medication. Certain substances, even when prescribed can affect your brain chemistry and even lead you to have more anxious thoughts. If you feel that a new medication might be triggering some anxiety, you might want to talk with your doctor about an alternative medication.

 

Drinking too much caffeine

While caffeine is not harmful to most people, it is also mood-altering and can make anxiety symptoms worse. Coffee can increase anxiety and induce panic attacks in people who struggle with anxiety and panic disorders. If you feel that caffeine might be a trigger for your anxiety, then it might be a good idea to try decreasing the amount of caffeine you have. This could include soda, caffeinated coffee, and chocolate.

 

Lack of sleep

Sleep is beyond important for our mental and physical well-being. If you are not getting enough sleep, you might be struggling to concentrate, have frequent headaches, and become irritable, etc. Additionally, sleep disorders such as insomnia can be a serious sign of an anxiety disorder. Typically when trying to fall asleep we can start worrying about anything that is on our mind. Maybe you’re thinking about what the next day looks like or what events you might have to attend. You might also be stressed about a social interaction that happened that day which leaves you tossing and turning all hours of the night. Anxiety and sleep can turn into a snowball effect. You cannot sleep because you are anxious and then you are anxious because you did not get enough sleep. If lack of sleep and your anxiety are triggering each other, try to change up your sleep routine. Make sure your room is dark, get rid of any noise from your sleep environment and avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

 

Being stressed

Stress is usually caused by a reaction to an external source like a loss of a job or difficulty at home. Stress typically passes when the source of the cause is gone but, sometimes anxiety is generated internally and won’t always go away when that external source goes away. While the two are often related, they do not always occur at the same time. An increase in your stress may intensify your anxiety. If you feel that stress is an anxiety trigger for you, then consider ways you might be able to limit that external source of stress. Reduce unnecessary obligations, put your bills on autopay, and let your boss know when you might need some help at work. You can also try some breathing techniques and similar coping mechanisms, which have been shown to help decrease anxiety caused by stress.

-Kelsey Rosson

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