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Common Anxiety Triggers To Avoid

As many as 1 in 5 South Africans suffer from an anxiety disorder each year.30 Anxiety causes feelings of worry, fear or tension31 and some people with anxiety disorder may also experience physical symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and a racing heart rate.32

Anxiety triggers can vary from person to person but there are some triggers that are more common31 and we touch on some of these in this article. Whilst there are times when anxiety can seemingly trigger for no reason at all, where triggers can be identified this can be so useful in helping one to manage anxiety better.31

• Trigger 1: Health concerns

Anxiety may be triggered or worsened as a result of a particularly serious health condition.31 Dealing with news of a life-threatening health condition can be frightening, deeply personal and anxiety provoking. Talking to a qualified healthcare professional may be necessary to manage the challenges associated with an anxiety trigger of this nature.31

• Trigger 2: Medication

Some over-the-counter and prescription medicines can cause anxiety as a side effect.31 Chat to your healthcare professional if you suspect that a medicine may be triggering your feelings of anxiety and find out if there is an alternative treatment available to you.

• Trigger 3: The caffeine boost

Caffeine can trigger anxiety or make it worse.31 Whilst it may be your go-to in the morning, it could also be triggering your feelings of anxiety right from the moment you get up! Give decaffeinated coffee or tea a try and see if you notice any improvement in your anxiety level.

• Trigger 4: The blood sugar rollercoaster

Skipping meals leads to blood sugar fluctuations that can trigger anxiety.31 Balanced and regular meals are so important to maintain blood sugar balance, prevent agitation and regulate overall mood.

• Trigger 5: The mind

Positive thought is powerful as what your mind thinks and believes can manifest in the body.31 The mind controls the body so the words you say when agitated or upset can trigger an anxious response in the body.31

Be vigilant about what you focus on, what you say to yourself and the language you use.31 A good rule to live by is if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself.

• Trigger 6: Money

Financial worries can also trigger anxiety. Seek professional help as a qualified guide can be so helpful in rationalising your concerns and helping you to find the best and most practical way forward.31

• Trigger 7: Stress

Stress is yet another trigger!31 One doesn’t have to look far for stressful situations right now - from pandemics to traffic jams and from crime to unemployment, the effects of chronic stressors such as these can trigger and worsen long-term anxiety.31

Stress management tools can help one regain a feeling of control and an ability to cope better.31 Read our article “Stress-bust Your Life Today” for a few stress management tips that can be easily incorporated into daily life.


Identifying your anxiety triggers is the first step to managing anxiety better.31 Create a journal and jot down trigger moments so that you can start to see patterns and scenarios that challenge you. Consider working through these with a healthcare professional for extra support and guidance.

Remember that occasional anxiety is common but chronic feelings of worry, fear or dread are a sign to seek professional help.31 Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it!
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