13 Things That Cause Anxiety And What You Can Do About Them

Anxiety is something we have all faced at least once in our lifetime. It can be as simple as worrying about grades or work for most of us, but it can disrupt the life of those with high function anxiety.

Let’s start by discussing the science behind anxiety attacks. When you feel anxious, your body often goes into what is known as “fight or flight” mode. 

This is when your mind and body prepare you to escape any danger, even if there is none. It is your body preparing you to fight or flee the situation, even if you’re stressing out.

When this happens, your body may undergo specific symptoms. These symptoms can include changes in vision, muscle tension, excessive sweating, dry mouth, and increased heartbeat. 

Physiologist Walter Cannon first described this response in the 1920s. Along with the fight or flight response, an anxiety attack can make it harder to breathe or make you feel tense. 

It is essential to learn what causes it and how to manage your anxiety to make it easier to live with it. Once you know what causes it, it can be easier to manage it. Here are a few triggers to anxiety. Let’s take a look:

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What Causes Anxiety

Woman that is anxious.

Multiple issues can trigger an anxiety attack, here are just some of the most common reasons why one might feel anxious:

Struggling to Gain Control

You can often feel anxious when dealing with situations that you have no control over. Lack of control can make you feel hopeless at times. For instance, given the current pandemic situation, where everything is uncertain.

Anxiety and stress levels have increased since covid-19 as we are all dealing with situations beyond our control. 

For instance: the fear of loved ones contacting the virus, or unease about working from home, or even not knowing when the next lockdown would be. Thinking about all these things can certainly get overwhelming at times.

Stressing About Your Physical Health

Anxiety symptoms can often make you feel like there’s something physically wrong with you. Increased heartbeat, tightness in your chest, and blurry vision are just some of the symptoms people may face when they have a panic attack. 

And this may make you feel like something is wrong; at times, you may wonder, “Am I having a heart attack?”

Thoughts like these can induce anxiety, but rest assured that you’re okay, and this too shall pass. Make sure to get medical checkups every now and then to know whether you need any serious help. 

If you do experience any of these symptoms, the best thing is to do a breathing exercise.

Financial Issues

This is one of the most common reasons why one may feel anxious. A person who deals with high functioning anxiety may find himself plagued with thoughts such as, “What if I don’t make enough money” or “Am I spending too much?”.

There might even be concerns about job security and a lack of savings. Some people even tend to overthink, constantly living with the fear that they may somehow lose their job. Generally, people who are the primary providers of their families tend to get anxious about issues like these. 

Feeling Anxious About Your Loved Ones

This is another common cause of anxiety. Parents may experience this sort of anxiety a lot, especially when it comes to their kids and families. They might worry about things such as their family’s well-being, education, and finances. Thoughts of something terrible happening to your family can always be stressful.

People who live away from their families may get these thoughts a lot. Another thought that may make one anxious is, “what will I do if something bad happens to my family?”. 

Thinking about these things can be scary. Fortunately, there are many ways to help you cope with anxiety.

Education 

Students may have anxious thoughts about their grades and overall education. There is no doubt that studies are stressful, especially when there’s pressure from family. You may have thoughts about letting your family down if you don’t get good grades or not making it far enough in life if you don’t study hard.

Research shows that the second most common cause of death among college students is suicide. Being a student is not easy at all, and many things may take a toll on one’s mental health. Anxiety is one of those things, which is why mental health awareness among students is essential.

Students may also feel anxious if they are studying away from home. A change in routine, diet, and being away from family are all things that can be stressful.

Sleep Anxiety

Nighttime anxiety can be really hard to deal with for some people and can lead to severe sleep disorders. Studies show that 7-8 hours of sleep is crucial for a good performance during the day. People who have insomnia tend to have anxiety issues due to a lack of sleep.

It can be hard to calm your thoughts down when you’re trying to sleep. Other than thoughts about your day and the things that worry you, some people also get anxious thinking about their sleeping habits. 

Often stressing out about how much sleep they will get or whether they’ll be able to function well enough during the day adds to the anxiety.

Unhealthy Diet

Your mind and body are connected, so if you constantly binge on unhealthy foods, there is no doubt that you’ll feel the effects of it on your mental health. 

Eating a lot of refined sugars, processed meats, and carbs can make you more prone to anxious thoughts. This is because it increases your blood sugar levels, and low or high sugar levels can affect your mood.

It’s alright to have an unhealthy snack once in a while, but constantly eating junk food is not good. 

Another reason why an unhealthy diet causes anxiety is because of image issues. Processed foods can make you pile on pounds, which in turn can lead to more stress.

Past Trauma

For a lot of people, anxiety is caused by past traumatic events. People who suffer from PTSD may also deal with high functioning anxiety, especially if you come across a situation that triggers your PTSD.

Thinking about the past, about the next situation, which might be a trigger, or if you will ever be able to heal from your trauma are all thoughts that can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. 

It is crucial to keep in mind that the condition can be managed and remind yourself that your trauma doesn’t define you.

Perfectionism 

Wishing everything to be done a certain way can be very worrying. This sort of anxiety is a common occurrence for those who are either perfectionists or suffer from OCD. 

The thoughts of things not going as planned may make you feel very anxious. Perfectionists also tend to get anxious when they make small mistakes.

It is essential to keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes; it’s what makes us human.

Disagreements 

If you get into an argument or disagreement with someone, it might make you anxious because you don’t know the outcome. You might find yourself worrying about whether the argument will affect your relationship with the other person. 

Sometimes when conflicts take place, you get stressful thoughts like, “Will this affect my public image?” or “Will it affect my relationship with people?”

In moments like these, it is best to talk it out and discuss your feelings with someone.

Social Media

With endless streams of bad news, false narratives, and unrealistic expectations, social media can be a massive cause of anxiety. What we see on social media is not always the truth. 

Thoughts about having a life as perfect as you see on social media or reading bad news about the world can leave you feeling upset. Social media detoxes are excellent for clearing up your mind. 

Remember that not everything you see online is accurate, and you never honestly know what a person is going through. 

Separation Anxiety

Man that is very worried.

The root of this type of anxiety may come from past traumas. If you find yourself getting anxious over thoughts of your loved ones leaving you, chances are you have separation anxiety. 

Although it is more common in kids, a lot of adults deal with it too. It might be thoughts about your loved ones passing away or thinking about your partner breaking up with you. 

This sort of anxiety often makes you distance yourself from your loved ones to avoid the pain associated with them, leaving you alone. 

Caffeine, Alcohol and Other Stimulants 

Stimulants like caffeine and alcohol may elevate your anxiety symptoms, making you feel worse. Caffeine speeds up your heartbeat, which may worsen your pre-existing symptoms or make you feel like you are having a panic attack.

Alcohol may make you feel good at the moment, but it is harmful to your health. Research suggests that alcohol is a depressant, and it will most likely make you feel more anxious than you already are. 

As far as self-medication goes, avoid it at all costs, and make sure to consult your doctor before taking any medicine for your anxiety.

What to Do About Anxiety?

We have discussed various causes of anxiety, but what to do about anxiety? How can you manage and understand it better? Here are a few ways in which you can deal with it better:

Breathing

When you get anxious, your breathing gets affected. This can make you feel breathless and also make you panic, making your anxiety worse. If you are going through an anxiety attack, the first step is to focus on your breathing.

Remember to breathe through your abdomen, not your chest. You can do this by imagining a balloon inside your stomach, inflating as you inhale and deflating when you exhale. 

This will trick your brain into thinking you are calm since you’re breathing normally. Plus, it’s a tried and tested way to help you calm down quickly.

Therapy

If anxiety is manageable, you can deal with it simply by having a healthier routine and doing some breathing exercises. However, if stress affects your way of life, it is best to consult a therapist. Your therapist can help you identify these triggers so you can work on them accordingly. 

Therapy is a great long-term tool for managing high-functioning anxiety.

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Reassurance

Remember to tell yourself that anxiety cannot hurt you. It will feel uncomfortable when you’re going through it, but it will pass. In simpler words: don’t let your anxiety control you.

Reassure yourself that these feelings are normal and they can’t harm you in any way.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

When you get anxious, your body tenses up. This is not just uncomfortable, but it also makes you feel more anxious. Progressive muscle relaxation is a method In which you tense specific muscles and relax while focusing on your breathing.

This can be very calming for some people, helping them work through a panic attack. It also helps to release the tension in your body and help you feel more relaxed. 

This is an excellent tool for nighttime anxiety, as it can help you fall asleep more easily.

Final Words

There are many ways to deal with anxiety, both long and short-term. It will help if you keep reminding yourself that it is okay to have anxiety. 

Once you understand what triggers it, you can try out different methods to see what works best for you and helps you calm down. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. Hopefully, incorporating these healthy habits will help you better deal with anxiety and lead a better and healthier life.

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