To be human is to experience anxiety, but sometimes it’s hard to understand why you feel anxious at a given time. What’s specifically causing you to feel worried or panicked?
You can’t control how you feel, but understanding your emotional states can help you develop stronger insight into certain patterns. When you can recognize anxiety triggers in real time, you can also take action to take care of yourself and prepare for challenging events in the future.
Sometimes these triggers are obvious. Another car just barely missed hitting yours, and you’re shaken with panic. You have an important presentation at work, and you wake up with butterflies in your stomach. Other times, they are more covert. Here are some of the subtle signs that people often dismiss or misunderstand.
Like many people, you may have a jam-packed schedule that leaves little room for pause. Life is go, go, go, and the idea of stopping or slowing down may actually seem insulting.
A fast pace is sometimes unavoidable, but if that’s your perpetual speed, you’re likely to feel anxious. It may never seem like there’s enough time in the day, and you may struggle with flexible thinking or allowing yourself to be spontaneous.
Remember that productivity isn’t the same as meaning, and many people stay busy as a way to avoid sitting with themselves.
Your Physical Surroundings
Location matters when it comes to your mental health. A toxic work environment can dramatically increase your stress. But even a messy home environment can affect your wellness.
Sensory issues: Temperature, sounds, smells, colors, and lighting all impact mood. Some people find that overly bright lights or loud noises increase how anxious they feel.
Inclusivity: Not all spaces feel safe. If you’re in a physical environment that isn’t inclusive to your mental or physical needs, the space itself can represent an anxiety trigger.
Cultural values: If you don’t feel like your environment honors your cultural needs, it can feel unsettling or even discriminatory, which can trigger anxiety.
Relationship concerns: The people in the closest proximity to you undoubtedly affect your emotional state. Boundary issues, poor conflict management, and clashing in values can all affect your mental health.
Were you recently promoted at work? Did your partner just propose? Are you moving into a great new home? On the surface, these changes seem exciting! You’re about to embark on a new adventure, and you’re going to feel happier as a result…right?
While positive life events certainly feel better than negative ones, they often result in mixed emotions. Saying yes to something- even when it’s a great choice- ultimately means saying no to something else. And in a world where very few things in life ever seem black or white, it’s normal to second-guess your decision.
Trauma triggers closely resemble anxiety triggers, and that’s because trauma impacts the part of the brain that’s also associated with detecting and coping with fear.
Unresolved trauma often perpetuates anxiety symptoms, including panic attacks, nightmares, avoidance, sleep problems, and physical symptoms that can affect functioning in day-to-day life. This can apply in cases of a single traumatic event or instances of more complex trauma.
Trauma reminders aren’t always obvious. You may not, for example, recognize that you subconsciously associate a certain type of personality as triggering. But when you’re around people with similar personality types, your body tightens, and you feel a sense of dread, even if you can’t articulate why.
Poor Sleep and Sleep Problems
It’s a cruel reality that people with anxiety often also experience sleep problems. Research shows slight sleep deprivation is associated with mental health problems like irritability, concentration problems, and increased impulsivity.
Unfortunately, anxiety about sleep itself can worsen symptoms of insomnia. This becomes a vicious cycle. You feel anxious about getting a good night’s rest, and that fear keeps you wide awake. This often turns into another night of tossing and turning.
And if you’re like most people, you might rely on drinking coffee to get through the day and manage your to-do list. Too much caffeine, however, can worsen anxiety, especially in people who have anxiety disorders.
Negative Thought Patterns
How you talk to yourself significantly impacts your mental health. Negative self-talk perpetuates anxiety, and it can also make it challenging to see the greater perspective when you struggle with emotional distress.
These negative thoughts can feel conflicting. At times, it may even seem like some parts of you are rooting for your success, while other parts want to engage in self-sabotaging behaviors. And while some part of you might discern certain anxious thoughts as irrational, another part of you feels the acute distress associated with that trigger.
People with anxiety disorders often struggle to regulate their thoughts. They often personalize negative events or assume bad things will happen just because they’re feeling anxious.
The key here isn’t to just naively replace all negative thoughts with more positive self-talk. Toxic positivity can be disingenuous and even harmful. But being mindful of how you talk to yourself when faced with personal triggers can empower you to practice more self-compassion.
Therapy For Stress and Anxiety Disorders in Washington State
Learning how to manage your anxiety isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Trauma, low self-esteem, relational distress, and other mental health problems can complicate your emotions. There isn’t a quick fix for feeling better.
Sometimes you can mitigate or even eliminate certain anxiety triggers. But that isn’t the case for all circumstances, and stress is an inevitable part of being human.
It’s important to have a safe, inclusive space to talk about your feelings and overcome limiting beliefs. Therapy can provide that supportive space and give you the tools you need to better cope with your symptoms.
If you have an anxiety disorder, it doesn’t have to define your emotional well-being. Seeking the right support can make a difference in how you feel.
Contact me today to schedule your initial consultation.
Begin Anxiety Treatment in Seattle, WA
If you have an anxiety disorder, it doesn’t have to define your emotional well-being. Seeking the right support can make a difference in how you feel. I would be honored to provide this support from my Seattle, WA-based therapy practice. Contact me today to schedule your initial consultation. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
- Schedule a free 20-minute consultation.
- Meet the skilled and licensed therapist
- Start managing your anxiety in a healthier way!
Other Therapy Services Offered At Inner Wisdom Counseling
Anxiety treatment isn’t the only service offered at Inner Wisdom in Seattle, WA. You may experience concerns related to other issues unrelated to anxiety, which is why I also offer EMDR therapy, depression treatment, treatment for anxiety, and life transitions therapy. I also offer LGBTQIA+ therapy and online therapy across the state of Washington. Learn more by visiting the blog or FAQ today!