“…things that were, things that are, and things that may yet be.”J. R. R. Tolkien
Anxiety doesn’t make sense. I know it doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop my mind from filling with worry and my body from feeling sick with nerves.
And I am tired of people asking me what I have to be nervous about.
So I decided to make a list.
I set my number at 100 to see if I could actually make a full list. Then I let my mind take over to remember every real-world and “what if” scenario that has triggered my anxiety at one point or another.
Thankfully, one thing we can always count on is a flighty imagination to keep the panic ticking on.
My triggers have developed from a mixture of past experiences, learning from others’ past experiences, and my own unkempt imagination. However, I will not be discussing those root causes on this list.
What are the benefits of knowing your anxiety triggers?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, psychologist, therapist or similar. This blog offers ideas, tools, strategies and recommendations based on my experience with anxiety, panic attacks and mental health. I do not guarantee any results or outcomes as strategies that have worked for me may not work for you. For diagnosis and treatment of any physical and mental health condition, consult a licensed professional.
Sitting down to make a list of anything that has tripped your anxiety is a practice in self-reflection. And once you have that list, you can analyze it to see the connections and identify the underlying causes.
Knowing the root cause of these feelings will then give you a goal to focus on during your journey.
And, this practice will give a huge boost to your emotional intelligence.
But beyond that, perhaps the greatest benefit of identifying your emotional triggers comes when developing your anxiety coping strategies.
To cope with your anxiety, you may focus on addressing the root causes, begin to assert boundaries, and learn how to avoid the triggering events.
Read more from the pros (I have no affiliation with these websites, but have found them useful on my journey):
A List With A Purpose
I know this is an odd post, but this list serves two purposes:
- exercising my emotional intelligence; and
- for a laugh because I know that some of these things are completely ridiculous.
At the risk of this topic feeling sad, please know I chose to post it to share and create camaraderie among people with anxiety.
Perhaps this list will provide some comfort that you are not alone should you have similar triggers or your own silly triggers (like number 44: stomach gurgles).
Please know that I try to laugh at how ridiculous my mind can be rather than mope in constant dread.
When a negative thought flits through my mind, I try to push it away with a hopeful alternative or action plan.
Anxiety will only leave me as stuck as I let it. And I’m nervous about getting stuck anywhere (see numbers 43 and 51).
How does my anxiety get triggered? Let me count the ways.
Disclaimer: Please read this post with caution as I do not want it to trigger your anxiety or, worse, a panic attack. Take care!
- When a doorbell rings.
- A knock on the door.
- Answering the door.
- Not answering the door.
- My messy apartment.
- My clean apartment.
- People who drop by without warning.
- Having people over, ever.
- Not talking.
- Talking too much.
- When I set the alarm.
- When I can’t sleep.
- When I can’t sleep because I set the alarm.
- When I have five more hours to sleep before the alarm goes off.
- My home security alarm.
- My car alarm.
- Loud noises.
- Going on a date.
- Going on a virtual date.
- What if I forgot to unplug my straightener?
- A ringing phone.
- Calling family.
- Calling a client.
- Calling to make an appointment.
- Going to an appointment.
- What if I’m early?
- What if I’m late?
- What if I have the wrong date?
- Am I having a panic attack or heart attack?
- Lighting a candle.
- Extinguishing a candle.
- Using a lighter.
- Using a gas stove.
- The first day of the new school year.
- The first day back after a break.
- That embarrassing thing I said when I was 9.
- Walking alone.
- Walking with other people.
- Walking near crowds.
- Getting stuck in the mud (walking or driving).
- Stomach gurgles.
- My posture.
- What if I forgot to turn off the light?
- Entering a new store.
- Asking for help.
- Returning an item.
- I’m not sure what I’m anxious about right now, but my body feels anxious. Let me think about it.
- What if the tire doesn’t line up on the track at the car wash, and I get stuck?
- The flight I have tomorrow.
- The flight I have in six months.
- The flight I haven’t booked yet.
- Finding my seat on the plane.
- Receiving bills.
- Paying bills.
- Remembering if I paid the bills.
- Making mistakes.
- Driving in a new area.
- What if I don’t know anyone there?
- What if I know someone there?
- Setting up a bio on any social media app, ever.
- Making a reel.
- Taking a selfie.
- Posting a selfie.
- Posting myself in a story.
- Writing a blog post.
- Sharing a blog post like this.
- Doing too much.
- Not doing enough.
- It’s 3 AM—why am I still awake?
- It’s 11 PM—what am I doing with my life?
- Everything I need to do tomorrow.
- Everything I didn’t do today.
- When I need to leave and can see the neighbours are outside.
- When I need to leave and can hear the neighbours are also about to leave.
- When people are close enough to read over my shoulder.
- When people can see me sing in the car.
- What if I’m overdressed?
- What if I’m underdressed?
- Wearing a bra.
- Not wearing a bra.
- Forgetting someone’s name.
- Being too excited.
- Being too sensitive.
- Being too mean.
- Being too nice.
- Spending $200.00.
- Carrying any amount of cash.
- Having a wallet.
- What if I forget my wallet?
- What if I forget my phone?
- What if I forget my keys?
- Poor Wi-Fi.
- A phone battery at 60%.
- Anything outside of my control.
How I Deal
I’ve developed some coping strategies to ease my anxiety.
But I also structure some of my life around limiting the triggers:
For 1-4, I will only use an app like Skip the Dishes or DoorDash when ordering food. The delivery instructions are always: leave the food at the door, do not ring the bell. And when they don’t even knock—above and beyond! You get five stars.
For 23-25, I ask to keep all communication online, and thankfully, in 2022, it’s more acceptable than it used to be.
For 95-97, I need my fives when I go out: phone, money, ID, keys and lip balm. I keep the list short. I always count off my fives before leaving the house. If I need to add one more item, I keep it under the keys and put a post-it note on the door.
While these extra steps can feel like a pain, they make me feel confident and in control.
Please tell me you share some of these triggers! And if you have any odd triggers, share them down below.