18 Things That Will Trigger Your Anxiety and Make It Act Up

Navigating life’s twists and turns can make you feel like you’re tiptoeing on eggshells. However, this will further be amplified and become more challenging for you if you’re grappling with anxiety. Because of this, we’ve rounded up the top 18 things that are most likely fueling your anxiety and preventing you from achieving peace of mind. Equipped with this knowledge, we’re optimistic you’ll be able to face these triggers head-on and reclaim a sense of calm amidst life’s storms and waves.

Dodging Dilemmas

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When you dodge your dilemmas, you do your best to avoid certain things that stress you out. In fact, avoidance is one of the most common safety or coping mechanisms for those who have anxiety. This is especially common for people with social anxiety disorder, OCD, and agoraphobia—the fear of situations or places that can cause helplessness, embarrassment, or being trapped.

Having a People-Pleasing Attitude

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People with anxiety fear being disapproved of or rejected by others. So, even if it’s at their own expense, they adjust to people’s every whim. They please others just so they can be accepted, even though it might lead them to a worse road in the future.

Being Too Critical of Yourself

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According to Healthdirect, “Negative self-talk is often experienced by people who have depression or anxiety.” People with anxiety or other mental health issues would criticize themselves over and over because they think they’re not worth it. However, this harmful habit could be challenging to shake off in the long run. The longer this goes on, the worse your anxiety or depression can get.

Polarized or All-Or-Nothing Thinking

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When you have an all-or-nothing or black-and-white mindset, you think and feel in the extremes. For example, when you make a mistake at something, you immediately feel that you’re incompetent, stupid, and unworthy. However, mistakes are part of being human, and it’s the only way for you to grow. If one constantly thinks and feels at extremes, or if they can’t find the gray area in life, it will be harder for them to cope and shake off their anxiety.

Constantly Thinking of the Worst-Case Scenarios

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Catastrophizing is precisely what it seems to be—always thinking of the worst-case scenario and living life with endless crippling fears. In more ways than one, catastrophic thinking is a perpetual state of anxiety that makes people zoom in on all sorts of horrific outcomes. In contrast, they close their minds off to any possible positive ones.

Craving Constant Reassurance

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As humans, it’s normal to want reassurance every now and then. However, people with mental health issues such as OCD and anxiety tend to crave it to a whole other level. The more it happens, the harder it becomes for people to break out of the cycle. For example, a person with anxiety might think that they were only able to get out of their negative headspace because of others’ reassurance; they’ll believe that without it, they’ll never succeed.

Sleep Deprivation

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Sleep deprivation or insomnia is something that’s linked with many mental health issues and disorders, including anxiety. When we have too many nights with little to no sleep, our emotional functioning can be affected, decreasing positive moods. This will later make us more susceptible to our anxiety symptoms.

Sticking to Stressful Surroundings

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People sometimes mistake anxiety for stress and vice versa. However, while these two can have some similarities, at the end of the day, they’re very different, and one can even trigger the other. Mayo Clinic explains, “A big event or a buildup of smaller stressful life situations may trigger excessive anxiety.”

Fretting Over Your Finances

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Worrying about money is normal, especially if you think you don’t have enough of it. However, when there’s too much worrying over one’s finances, it may lead to money anxiety. This means someone is constantly fretting over their income or fearing something wrong could suddenly happen to their finances.

Caffeine Overload

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Adults can consume around 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is equivalent to around four or five cups of coffee. However, any intake over that amount can increase the likelihood of anxiety and panic attacks. Too much caffeine can cause irregular heartbeat, palpitations, chest pain, and even death.

Information and Social Media Overload

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When you’re drowning yourself in information or social media, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk of getting anxiety attacks. Aside from the mental strain your constant scrolling gives you, it also makes you feel uneasy if you read or see something you disagree with or if it directly or indirectly attacks you. Too much exposure to these messages can push you to a state of high emotional stress, eventually triggering your anxiety.

Taking Certain Medications

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It may seem ironic that medications can trigger anxiety attacks. However, sometimes, medication-induced anxiety is a common side effect that many people experience. For example, some medicines prescribed for headaches or cold symptoms may contain caffeine. Because caffeine is a stimulant, it can worsen one’s anxiety or even cause sleep deprivation.

Dwelling on a Distressing Health Diagnosis

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When you receive an unsettling health diagnosis, it’s normal for you to worry. However, if you constantly stress yourself over this, you might find yourself spiraling toward anxiety. For example, you might think that doing certain things will immediately lead you to worsen your condition or even death, thus preventing you from doing certain things you enjoy. Your anxiety and fear will manifest over your life, therefore crippling you and making you feel hopeless.

Going to Unwanted Social Gatherings

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Social anxiety is another common thing that people experience. This may be caused by one’s childhood experiences or genetic predisposition. Whatever it is, finding yourself in a social gathering or a situation you’re uncomfortable with can trigger your anxiety.

Messy Home Environments

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Many consider their homes their safe space. So, when things are messy at home or when things are out of order, their anxiety picks up, making them stress over every little detail. Neuroscience News also shares, “The presence of clutter can often lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. The brain tends to favor order, reducing the competition for attention and mental load.”

Negative Work Environments

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Work is a stressor that everyone goes through. Unfortunately, some are not lucky enough to find a work environment conducive to productivity and mental health. Toxic workplaces and colleagues can be a significant source of stress and psychological strain. Being constantly exposed to these negativities can then trigger one’s anxiety symptoms, making people feel burned out, unproductive, and unmotivated.

Constantly Worrying About Loved Ones

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As humans, we can’t help but think about and worry about our loved ones. However, too much worry can be detrimental to our mental health. According to Psych Central, “Worrying increases stress, and it doesn’t create change or stop bad things from happening; it only makes you more stressed.” When you worry about others, ensure you know how to rein in your emotions; worry about yourself, too!

Having Unhealthy Eating Habits

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Though one’s diet is usually associated with one’s physical health, it’s important to note that it also affects one’s mental health. While it doesn’t directly affect or cause anxiety, making sure you have healthy eating habits and a good diet can certainly help. For example, instead of consuming simple carbohydrates, go for more complex ones, as these are believed to increase the serotonin in your brain, which helps you calm down. Make sure you’re always hydrated because even mild dehydration can affect your mood!

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.