Anxiety is a common challenge among the current population. According to one study, around 31.1% of U.S. adults will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes. Yet, the commonplace nature of anxiety doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to coexist with on a day-to-day basis.
Part of the challenge here is that your experience of anxiety is likely to be impacted by various subjective elements. Understanding your specific collection of root causes and triggers can significantly impact how well you can manage your symptoms. However, while there are some common general triggers of anxiety you live with, there may also be some less apparent influencers.
We will examine some approaches you can take to identify what hidden factors might trigger your anxiety.
Understand the Potential Influencing Factors
Identifying hidden triggers of your anxiety can be a challenging process. Often, these elements can blindside you because they may not be what many people consider traditional root causes. At other times, they may be contributory or exacerbatory to the more apparent influencers. When trying to understand the hidden elements, it’s essential to understand what areas you might want to examine more closely.
One thing to consider is that not all hidden factors triggering anxiety are psychological. Some can be physical. A key example here is dietary choices. Some foods and drinks can create changes in your body chemistry that affect your psychological responses.
For instance, alcohol can have effects on multiple areas of your body and your mind. In some instances, it influences the central nervous system (CNS), which has a more direct influence on your mood. Alternatively, the impact on your digestive system or immune system may influence a sense of worry that exacerbates anxiety in other areas. Recognizing this link is particularly important to bear in mind if you self-medicate with alcohol.
Other potential hidden sources are psychological challenges that don’t necessarily have roots in your own lived experiences. Generational trauma is increasingly recognized as something that can inform symptoms of anxiety across multiple successors. This is because trauma can impact the behavior of those who live with it first-hand, which has a knock-on effect on their children and is then passed on to other generations. Indeed, there is some evidence to suggest that such trauma can be inherited biologically. So, it’s important to consider what events outside your immediate experience may contribute to your symptoms.
Keep a Record
It’s important to take an organized and formal approach to identify the hidden factors that can trigger your anxiety. This enables you to keep track of the new and existing elements that you want to keep an eye on. Not to mention that you can gain a better understanding of how consistently these aspects contribute to your anxiety. This empowers you to make more informed decisions about your treatment and how you function alongside your experiences.
You can keep track of triggers relatively simply by utilizing a journal or daily planner. Keep notes of your experiences of anxiety. Be as detailed as possible here. Mark down the times of day you had symptoms, how long each lasted, and what you were doing. It’s also wise to make notes of actions leading up to those instances, such as what you ate or intrusive thoughts you might have. Remember that there might not be a single trigger of your symptoms, but rather a range of cumulative hidden factors. So, this journal can help you identify these more effectively.
In some instances, it can also be positive to utilize some technology in assisting your record-keeping efforts. Wearable devices are increasingly accessible ways to better capture the data related to wellness. Smartwatches, biosensors, and blood pressure monitors can provide real-time insights into how your body is responding to certain stimuli. You can see the biological stress indicators throughout your day and work with your healthcare professional to match these to potential correlating factors in your activities.
Assess the Factors
Spotting what appears to be hidden influencers of your anxiety symptoms is not a cut-and-dried activity. After all, correlation does not always equal causation. Rather, these elements should be treated as points to prompt further exploration, examination, and discussion.
This is where it is especially helpful to work with a professional therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. They provide not only their expert knowledge but also a valuable external perspective. While your personal insights are invaluable, it’s possible to be too close to your own challenges to make objective assessments. They can help you review what you believe to be hidden factors and talk you through them in a safe and nurturing environment.
From here, it’s important to also assess any changes you and your healthcare provider select to help manage your anxiety. Keep utilizing your journal to note the changes in behavior or symptoms. Note how the changes you make impact situations in which you may usually experience anxiety. Detail your approach to mindfulness and how this helps you to navigate challenges when the identified hidden factors are present. This can help you to make more agile and relevant decisions as you move forward.
Alongside common influencers of anxiety, it’s important to identify what hidden factors may be at play. Understanding how elements like diet and generational trauma can trigger symptoms can give you a good starting point for your investigations. It’s also wise to keep a journal of your experiences with potential contributory factors. Wherever possible, work with a psychology professional to review your findings and collaborate on solutions.