5 Common Anxiety Triggers and Why They Occur


Anxiety disorders affect millions of people daily, and unfortunately, can still be a taboo topic for some. Anything can trigger someone to feel stressed, or experience fear or anxiousness. We have put together three very common anxiety triggers, and why they may occur!

After a Night of Drinking

You are probably highly familiar with the typical hangover that comes with a fun night of drinking, but, have you ever experienced increased feelings of stress and anxiety the morning after? This emotional feeling is so common that it has actually been named, “hangxiety”. Although there is no one reason why this feeling occurs, similarly to why there is no single cause of anxiety, doctors do have some theories! Firstly, according to Joseph Janesz, PhD, LICDC, after someone drinks alcohol, they will later undergo a withdrawal or a detox: it can actually take up to 8 hours to complete this withdrawal period. So, it is extremely common to feel excessively anxious or nervous during this time. 

Another reason could include the dehydration that comes with drinking excess alcohol. Dehydration is actually linked to feelings of fear and anxiety as the lack of water within your body can add stress to the body. Moral of the story, do not forget to drink a ton of water, whether you are drinking alcohol or not!

 Another reason could involve the poor decision-making that may come with drinking alcohol. I am sure many of us have made decisions that we may not normally make when not drinking alcohol. This may include “embarrassing” decisions, opting to overeat, or any other behavior that may be altered from drinking too much. Waking up in the morning and remembering those decisions can easily cause feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Overall, this is not to say you should not enjoy a night out with your friends and have a glass of wine or so. But, do be mindful that alcohol is a very common anxiety trigger. 

Late At Night

Do you ever notice that once it gets dark out, or once it is time to crawl into bed and relax, your mind suddenly races? It is actually extremely common to feel more anxious at night. So, why is this? One very large possibility is that at night you do not have the distractions provided for you during the daytime. Once you are in bed, alone with your thoughts, it is very easy for your anxiety to intensify and your mind to wander.

There is also the added factor of anxiety over not being able to fall asleep. As your melatonin levels increase during the night, the increased anxiousness may disturb your sleep cycle, allowing you to stress about the inability to fall asleep that night and the nights to come. If this is relatable to you, you are not alone! There are plenty of remedies available to ease your stress and anxiety at night, such as meditation, drinking warm tea or milk, putting away your electronics, or reading something light and happy before bed. For those who struggle with evening anxiety, something that may help is watching a tv show that is familiar or a comedy before bed and even writing down a plan for the next day to clear the mind. 

Ultimately, however, it is a very individual process finding what makes you feel safe and comfortable, so play around with calming night routines!

Health Symptoms

Another very common anxiety trigger, that everyone on this planet has probably experienced during COVID-19, is health anxiety. Typically, health anxiety is when someone who is mostly healthy worries that they have symptoms of some kind of sickness. This type of anxiety can certainly vary depending on the person; some people who truly suffer from health anxiety may undergo unnecessary testing or physician care, while others may constantly silently worry that they will develop a disease. Actually, 4-5% of the population suffers from health anxiety, and as we are all still uncertain about COVID-19, the number has probably risen. Especially during this time, it is really important to talk about how common health anxiety is and how to treat it! If this is something that you relate to, it may be helpful to seek help and identify your own triggers. 

Spending Too Much Time Alone

Although it is highly beneficial to get comfortable being by yourself, spending too much time alone can easily cause feelings of worry and anxiousness. According to Dr. Salcedo, an MD, a psychiatrist and the Medical Director of The Ross Center  “if you’re unoccupied, your anxiety has space to grow.” Spending too much time alone can lead to feelings of isolation, which can truly have a negative emotional impact. Further, social interaction is just as important as taking space for yourself, make sure to try to balance the two!

Nothing At All!

This prompt may seem confusing, but many people actually experience feelings of anxiety when doing activities that are extremely normal within their daily life; everything may seem to be absolutely fine, but it is not uncommon to still constantly feel stressed! This may be the most frustrating anxiety trigger, as you cannot determine the specific cause. However, a large reason as to why we experience anxiety is because we do not know our personal triggers, leading us to believe that these feelings stem from no apparent reason. Sometimes our sympathetic nervous system allows our body to have a strong reaction, even when we are not physically in danger. So, our bodies may react before our mind understands what is actually going on. 

There are countless anxiety triggers, and many of them can be individual to you! Anxiety disorders are the most common illness in the U.S and affects 40 million adults annually. So if you ever think you are alone with your feelings of anxiety, you absolutely are not! It is highly beneficial to learn about your own anxiety triggers so you can begin easing your symptoms.

How to Cope With Anxiety

Again, although coping mechanisms for issues of anxiety may be entirely individual, there are certainly helpful tips for the next time you experience an anxiety trigger. 

Try admitting that you are anxious, or experiencing certain uneasy feelings, and tell someone about it! So often we have too much pride to admit to others, and sometimes ourselves that we are struggling. But, this resistance only hurts us in the end. 

listening to soothing music can help feelings of anxiety

Take a walk outside and listen to your favorite music. Walking, in general, can be very soothing, especially if you are around nature. It is important to do whatever feels best for your body and mind doing high-stress scenarios, whether that be listening to music, watching a tv show, drawing, or anything else!

Stop whatever you are doing and go get some fresh air. Often we are so busy with deadlines and tasks that we do our anxiety multiplies. It can be very helpful to step away from anything you are doing and take time to acknowledge your anxiety. Also, getting some fresh air can be extremely calming and give you the chance to breathe.

Virtualize yourself in a calm situation. Sometimes when you feel overwhelmed it can be helpful to take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself peaceful and calm. Whether you picture yourself swimming in the ocean, laughing with friends, or taking a peaceful walk, just remind yourself that you can get to that calming place again. 

Journaling can help when feeling overwhelmed

Write down your thoughts! Sometimes writing your negative thoughts down will help get them out of your head. It also may be helpful to write a list of things you need or want to do, to help you feel less stressed and more organized.

All in all, anxiety is very individual and can be triggered and relieved in very different ways. If these coping mechanisms do not work for you, there are many other ways to relieve stress and anxiety, you just need to try them out! Something that is entirely random, but works for some people when they feel overwhelmed, is grocery shopping! So, be gentle to yourself and remember that everyone experiences forms of anxiety as well.

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