Listen to 17 Anxiety Triggers You Need To Ditch – Episode 5 of the Two of Me Podcast.
Play on your favourite player or read the transcript below.
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It’s easy to think that there are all these things you should be doing to stop feeling anxious and start feeling happier, but the truth is, sometimes doing fewer things is what helps to reduce anxiety.
As a person who finds it hard to stop and be, I found some of these triggers hard to remove initially. Still, when my anxiety kept coming back worse than before, I realised that it was imperative that I stopped with bad habits and most importantly, it was imperative that I stopped and worked out exactly what are my anxiety triggers were. Keeping a mood diary and trigger tracker have been key tools in helping me do this. I believe it’s important to do this first before moving forward; otherwise, you’ll get frustrated and feel let down.
Triggers of anxiety you should do away with
Stop trying to do it all yourself.
Please stop trying to do it all yourself and do what you can. If you can, consider outsourcing, my favourite way to kick some of my triggers in the butt.
I have a cleaner. There’s no way on earth I could do life without my cleaner at the moment. I also opt for the ‘easier’ way to do things even though they may not necessarily be cheaper. For the sake of a few dollars here and there, I have my sanity, and that’s worth it in my books. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get everything done. Set priorities and focus on those things first. In my daily planner, I list my to-do list and have 3 priority tasks each day. Check out my free brain dump printable, a great way to prioritise your to-do list if you’re not good at prioritising.
Stop being so serious.
Anxiety is bloody draining; it can quite quickly zap all the energy you have for the day. I know that anxiety makes me extremely tired. Remember to have fun, laugh, watch a funny movie, listen to a funny podcast or go out with your girlfriends. While you’re focusing on funny and positive stuff, you’re focusing less on the negative stuff.
Stop avoiding things
Whether you’re avoiding going to a friend’s party, avoiding trying a new café (this is me, all because I was anxious about car parking), avoiding going to a new gym…..avoiding things isn’t going to fix anything, it’s just going to make things harder, and it’s letting your anxious (and very false) thoughts win. I can think back to plenty of times where I’ve had anxiety but bit the bullet and did the thing and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, I can actually do this, it’s not so bad, I need to remember this for next time.” I have to admit, I’ve gone through this process multiple times because I don’t remember, but eventually, after much practice, it does get easier if you make yourself do it. I guess it trains your brain in some way, but you’ve got to work at it.
Stop surrounding yourself with negative people.
This one is a biggy for me. “You‘re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With” Unfortunately, some people’s personalities do not help those with anxiety. There are also those people who don’t understand mental illness and say the wrong thing – they are big anxiety triggers. They can introduce anxiety or make it worse. Who are you spending most of your time with, and how do they make you feel? Is it time to stop taking a phone call from this person or distancing yourself from them altogether? This sounds harsh, but it can be a good thing. Surround yourself with people who radiate positive energy.
Stop saying yes
Are you the person who says yes to everything only to find yourself rocking on the couch during a panic attack wishing you didn’t? We don’t need to put ourselves in these self-sabotaging situations wondering how we are going to cope. Take time to respond to a request, you don’t have to say yes or no straight away, in fact, you can tell them you’ll let them know later. Give yourself some breathing space. For more on saying no, read this post.
Stop setting your expectations so high.
It’s taken me a very long time to learn this lesson. I’ve always expected a lot from people, situations, and experiences and on so many occasions, I’ve been grossly disappointed because my expectations were unrealistic. And guess what? This was a massive anxiety trigger for me. I guess you could say that I’ve suffered from perfectionism where I have an idea of what something or someone should be like in my mind, and it hasn’t worked out how I wanted it to, and I didn’t have control over the matter. Enter Anxiety.
A quote that really resonates with me is “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” ~Alexander Pope.
For our anxiety’s sake, we need to reduce our expectations significantly.
Stop fighting your anxiety.
Anxiety is all in your mind; they’re the negative thoughts that aren’t real. There’s no point in fighting something that is made up, but there is a point to understanding your anxiety, understanding what triggers it and trying to manage it before it well and truly takes over. Yes, anxiety may be here to stay, but fighting it will bring you zero results.
Stop letting negative thoughts take over.
It takes practice, but I have tried to ‘catch’ my negative thoughts before they take over. It’s a process of recognising the thoughts, how they make you feel and understanding this enough to catch them. This is why it’s good to note negative thoughts and how they make you feel, so you don’t forget. For example, I absolutely hate talking on the phone, particularly to people I don’t know. Now that I can recognise the anxious feeling and thoughts I get, I swap these for a positive thought like, “Remember your last phone call with XYX, it went so well, and you were so happy afterwards.” Recognise, Catch, Replace.
Stop drinking too much alcohol.
If you’ve listened to my previous podcast, you’d know that I’ve been 2 years alcohol-free. One of the reasons I stopped drinking is because the alcohol clashed with my anxiety and bipolar medications. It also greatly affected my mood.
Remember, alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. I’m not saying stop drinking altogether as I did, that was a personal choice. I’m suggesting you take a look at how much you’re consuming because when life gets hard, when you’re not putting yourself first and when anxiety creeps in, it is oh so easy to use alcohol as a crutch to get you through and quickly, one to two drinks per night turns into four.
Stop drinking too much coffee.
Gee, this is a tough one. I absolutely love my coffee and don’t know what I’d do without it. But Too much caffeine can lead to increased anxiety or complicate an existing anxiety disorder by increasing symptoms. How much caffeine is recommended? About 3 to 4 cups of make at home coffee is the recommendation: about 400mg a day and includes caffeinated drinks.
Note: Decaf doesn’t necessarily mean NO caffeine, so check the label.
Stop worrying and overthinking.
I know that it’s my bodies instinct to worry and overthink things; it’s just how my brain is wired. In the shower, lying in bed, eating dinner, my mind is always thinking about what I have to do, what I didn’t do, if I did it right. But, I have slowly learned how to recognise this and then remind myself that I need to let it go if I can’t control it. Once you can accept that there’s nothing you can do about the future (or the past), it gets easier. Practising mindfulness is also a great way to slow down your mind and pull it into the present instead of worrying about the past or the future.
Stop forgetting to look after yourself.
I know, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing about all the self-care stuff. But do you know what? Many women I talk to don’t do it enough and wonder why they’re burnt out and burn out is bad. Anxiety, depression, poor physical health, lack of motivation. Don’t let it get to that. I have to admit, though. I’m one of those people. I don’t prioritise myself, and therefore I can’t give the best of myself. And no, having a bath by yourself isn’t self-care, that’s a necessity. I mean going out and having a coffee with a friend, giving yourself a night off cooking, enjoy a hobby, go out to breakfast without the kids. We know we need to do these things, but we always seem to push them to the side. “Your cup is empty because you poured out more than you poured in.”
Stop the self-sabotage
We are our own worst critics. We blame ourselves for our anxiety, but, it’s our inner critic at work, the negative self-talk is saying it. Try not to let this inner critic take over. “But how?” I bet you’re asking. Start with some self-affirmations. Remind yourself how absolutely fabulous you are and how far you’ve come. When you have negative thoughts, write them down and swap them for something positive. For example, swap ‘I’m not a good Mum’ for ‘I’m a good Mum. I’ve raised two great kids and managed a part-time job.” I also find giving my inner critic a name like ‘Karen’ more effective; it’s so much easier to tell her to piss off! 🙂
I’m sure we are all guilty of comparing, it’s human nature. Take school drop off as an example. You always see a mum who looks beautifully dressed, but you’re in your sloppy shirt and jeans. You had to bake a cake for the grandparents morning tea, yours is burnt around the edges, but another mum brought in perfectly iced cupcakes. Your friend posts a photo of their perfectly presented lounge room on Instagram, but you’re too embarrassed to have them over your house because it’s cluttered and mismatching. All these comparisons are huge sources of anxiety and you telling yourself that you’re not good enough. The thing to remember is that you have no clue what is happening behind the scenes in these people’s lives, social media has cropping and filters, and you certainly can’t compare your life with someone who is at a completely different point in theirs.
Stop making assumptions
Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Well, I assume she did this…?” only to have someone say, “You should never assume?” Well, they’re right. It’s a classic anxiety symptom, making assumptions. It’s us creating a story in our mind that doesn’t actually exist, and then we often act on it, jumping to conclusions and causing unnecessary problems. Save yourself from unnecessary anxiety and communicate, don’t guess. Instead of assuming someone at work doesn’t like you because they haven’t spoken to you today, go up and talk to them and ask if they’re ok.
Stop social media
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love it because digital marketing is my job, but I’m not too fond of it because it delivers a distorted reality and, there’s too much negativity. If you want to manage your anxiety, try a digital detox, read a good book, or listen to a podcast.
Stop being a couch potato.
I need to take some of my own advice here because I am a couch potato a little too much. I could blame having two young kids, I could blame the fact that I’m always too tired because of my bipolar, I could blame my husbands work hours, but really, I don’t have anything or anyone to blame because I have my legs and arms and can easily do a quick workout at home or go for a walk.
The reality is, physical activity and exercise definitely do help anxiety and mental health in general. I know this for a fact because it’s happened to me. This study suggests that exercise and physical activity could alleviate some symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression and reduce anxiety symptoms.
If you’re like me, though, you don’t like exercising for the sake of exercising. I have to do something I enjoy, so it’s a great idea to have fitness goals like running 5k or climbing a mountain, instead of focusing on something like losing weight. My current plan is to walk for 30mins, four days a week. Now that’s pretty achievable.
Remember, your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound.
Simplifying things is better than complicating things when it comes to your anxiety and general mental health. Although anxiety can turn up unannounced with no triggers (I know I wake up with it), understanding your anxiety triggers and removing them where you can, is a good step to dealing with part of the anxiety puzzle.
Start getting on top of your anxiety triggers with my Happy Mind Printables
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