Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress. It can be characterized by feelings of tension and increased blood pressure in the body, worried thoughts in the mind, and a lack of hopefulness about the future.

Knowing what triggers your anxiety can help you address and accommodate your life through it. Notice I said “through it” and not “around it.” Trying to avoid or go around anxiety causes it to grow in strength. It is like feeding table scraps to the dog and then wonder why they come begging all the time.

A better way of managing anxiety is using the three-step method I am illustrating here… Aware, Address, and Accommodate. I am focusing only on the first step in this article.

On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate the triggers? Let the range of 0 to 2 be about “calmness,” 3 to 5 about “small amounts of anxiety,” 6 to 8 about “higher levels” of anxiety, and 9 and 10 listed as “extreme” anxiety.

Review each of the trigger situations below and rank them on this scale. It is ok to add trigger areas I didn’t cover.

___ Conflict or drama in my family, friendships, or relationships

___ Being in a large crowd of people

___ Meeting someone new or going to someplace I haven’t been before

___ Having to confront or approach someone

___ Trying to make other people happy

___ Having too much to get done

___ Making plans with other people

___ Being away from my parent/guardian or family members

___ Performing or presenting in front of others

___ Any kind of sudden change

___ Having too much time to think

___ Not knowing what will happen in the future

___ Grades or stress from schoolwork

___ Being away from home/family/loved ones

___ When I or my loved ones travel

___ Getting criticized for something I did wrong

___ Going anywhere or doing certain things by myself

___ Loud noises or raised voices

___ Being around certain people

___ Being in tight spaces or being in wide open spaces

___ Having conversations

___ Being unprepared

It is important to mention that past traumas can create triggers in present situations and relationships. These triggers may be false alarms designed by the body’s hypervigilant warning system. Recognize these alarms as friendly protectors and stop fighting them. When you are in the middle of a trigger, tell yourself that this is just anxiety and it is trying to protect me from harm from the past, and this is different. This feeling of anxiety will go away soon, and joyful feelings will return.

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