If you are struggling to get through your day, it’s possible you are overwhelmed with stress or anxiety. Though they are very different issues that impact the mind, the symptoms of anxiety and stress are very similar. If you are experiencing stress or anxiety, you might notice the physical symptoms:
- Dizziness or fogginess
- Indigestion (acid reflux or GERD)
- Lost appetite and weight loss OR increased appetite and weight gain
- Muscle tension (especially in the neck, shoulders and jaw)
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Fatigue and exhaustion
- Racing thoughts or palpitations
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- chest pain or shortness of breath
- Panic attacks
- Sweaty palms
- Low libido or trouble performing
- Stomach issues (nausea, diarrhea or IBS)
I know all too well what it feels like to struggle with these debilitating symptoms of stress and anxiety impacting daily life. I want to help you identify what might be causing your stress or anxiety and how you can alleviate it to reduce the symptoms. Keep reading to find out more about the five most common causes of stress and anxiety, as well as how to catch your triggers and manage this issue.
You can absolutely beat this and come out stronger for it. I believe in you!
What Causes Stress and Anxiety?
Anxiety and stress are two very different issues that will affect your life in similar ways. The treatments for stress and anxiety are different, so it’s crucial we figure out which one is causing your interruptions and discomfort.
Anxiety is a very common mental health issue that often requires psychotherapy or anti-anxiety medication to get under control. Anxiety will persist, even when the triggers are removed. You might experience anxiety attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia or another type of anxiety disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports 31% of people experience an anxiety disorder within their lifetime.
Stress is even more common and is often triggered by intense events. While stress is a normal response that helps us react quickly to problems, it is not meant to be experienced long-term. The effects of acute and long-term stress will cause health issues that worsen without intervention. Some stressors can be so acute and intense that they cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental illness that requires more intervention than just stopping the stressor.
In the next section, we will talk about common triggers for both stress and anxiety. But, determining what you are dealing with will be a major first step in knowing how to successfully address your underlying issue.
To learn more, read my recent blog: What Is The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety? Here Are The Key Differences
5 Common Stress and Anxiety Triggers
Unlike anxiety, your level of stress should lessen considerably when stressors are gone. Stressors can spike both anxiety and stress.
If you notice one of these common triggers is a major issue in your life and remove it, there is a chance things won’t fully change if anxiety is the cause. If you’ve removed the stressors and continue to have stress and anxiety symptoms after six months, then it’s time to talk to a professional.
Anxiety will cause feelings of worry and fear when there is no threat. If you feel like you can’t get your concerns under control or stop the racing thoughts from hyper-focusing, then you need to see someone for anxiety.
Seeking out help is ALWAYS a great idea! Even healthy people see the doctor regularly for a checkup, and it really should be no different when it comes to visiting a mental health professional. Even if you are planning to see someone, you will want to remove stressors that could be negatively impacting your life and wellbeing.
1. Work-Related Triggers
The daily grind will mentally grind some people more than others. If you feel like you are unhappy in your job or overwhelmed with responsibility, it can cause a major stressor in your life. Work-related stress might happen from:
- Heavy workload
- Lack of appreciation
- Lack of purpose
- Working long hours
- Unclear expectations
- Poor management relationships
- Performance expectations (like giving speeches or presentations)
- Discrimination or harassment at work (especially if no one supports your attempts to complain)
- Insecurity about termination
- Not making enough money to cover basic expenses despite long and hard hours
- Working in dangerous conditions
- High turnover rates
To reduce this stressor: You might need to find a new company or career path. In some cases, simply identifying and voicing your problem is enough to change the situation. If possible, start by identifying the largest cause of your workplace stress to your immediate supervisor or boss, slowly working your way up the chain if necessary. Getting a hobby and focusing on self-care can also help you avoid bringing your work home and feeling that constant level of stress.
2. Financial Triggers
Money is one of the biggest causes of divorce and will cause a lot of stressors in life. Money stressors are often caused by:
- Debt (especially non-productive debt, like credit cards)
- Unexpected large bills
- Worries about the lack of savings or rainy day fund
- Managing money for paycheck-to-paycheck living
- Worries that you might lose the money you have
- Concerns about the cost of upcoming life events (wedding, college, baby, etc.)
To reduce this stressor: Learn how to manage your money and use the Law of Attraction to increase your affluence to reduce this stressor and turn it into a blessing. Don’t just wing it—stop to look at the numbers and set a budget. Ask for help if you struggle to manage your money on your own. Find ways to be generous without being spendy—since this generosity will make you feel good and take the focus off your money issues.
3. Health-Related Triggers
Your personal health condition (or the medical condition of a loved one) can certainly cause a lot of worry. Health stressors may be triggered by:
- Illness or injury
- Loss of independence
- Loss of a loved one
- Mental health issues (like depression or bipolar disorder)
- Chronic health issues or pain
- Concerns about COVID-19
- Worries about healthcare coverage
To reduce this stressor: Focus on your health and get enough nutritious food, sleep and exercise. Exercise is HUGE for relieving stress and anxiety, so really try to get moving at least five days a week. I know that can be hard, but it will make you feel so much better. If you don’t have a medical diagnosis, getting one can help you get the breaks or support you need to overcome this stressor.
4. Relationship or Social Triggers
Other people can be a common source of stress or anxiety in your life. We often cause each other stress, whether purposefully or not. Relationships frequently trigger feelings of anxiety and may even trigger anxiety attacks. Some of the most common stressors caused by relationships or social settings include:
- Marriage and divorce
- Public speaking
- Work relationships
- Raising young children or adding a newborn
- Toxic relationships
- Caregiving for a loved one or family member
- Social situations
To reduce this stressor: You will need to practice open communication. Too often, we bottle up our concerns and frustrations. It’s far easier to manage the situation if you are honest with the hardships. Set boundaries and take breaks where you need them. You might have to cut out toxic relationships from your life. Get counseling for help with your own perspective or your perspective with a partner.
5. Emotional Triggers
Some triggers are caused by how we perceive a situation. Even though someone else doesn’t understand what the “big deal” is, some events may just hit you differently. These emotional triggers could include:
- Lack of self-confidence
- Self-esteem issues or self-hate
- Feeling out of control
- Feeling low or hopeless
To reduce this stressor: Your mood is most commonly boosted and stabilized with exercise, so start there. Look for times to schedule social events with your family and friends—especially the ones that will lift you up and support you. Find a way to do something you enjoy every day, like listening to music, taking a walk through nature, gardening, taking a bath, drawing, crafting or chatting with a friend.
Tips for Identifying Anxiety and Stress Triggers
It can be tricky to really know what is causing your stress or anxiety. Once the strong feelings of overwhelm have started, everything can feel like a stressor. Here are some ways to pinpoint what is triggering your stress or anxiety.
This is a huge one for me. I write my thoughts and intentions every night. It can be a real hassle on those nights where I’m just ready to collapse into bed. Getting into the habit of journaling has allowed me to really be more mindful of my day.
Don’t overthink it. Just write out the words that come to mind. Try to limit yourself to writing about your struggles for the day and what you believe caused them. Then, set an intention for the next day to refocus your mind on what you can do. When I was at my lowest, my mantra became, “I wake up! I get up! I show up!” and I wrote this in my journal a LOT. If you are struggling with anxiety, focus on the truths about the people who love you and want you to succeed.
Work with a Therapist
Of course, professional help is a huge part of making changes faster. A professional will help you pinpoint your stressors and learn coping techniques so triggers won’t impact you so severely in the future.
Some triggers (especially for anxiety) can be very difficult to identify without the help of mental health professionals. They are likely to use cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy to help you work through your internal struggles.
Be Honest with Yourself
If you keep telling yourself it’s fine and normal, you prolong the issue and don’t get the help you need. Anxiety will cause negative thoughts and inaccurate self-assessment. You might believe certain truths that are contrived, making it hard to pinpoint triggers on your own. Practice mindfulness through meditation to focus on truths and self-discovery.
Realizing you are in a rut is a huge first step. If you are reading this to get help, I just want to say: I’m so proud of you! Be patient with yourself and keep exploring your thoughts to see what is building on these triggers to make the reaction so intense.
Living and Managing Stress and Anxiety
If you are struggling with stress or anxiety, life can be extremely hard. You might feel guilty for struggling despite having an incredible life, or you might be in an extremely tough place where nothing is what it should be.
The more you are willing to roll up your sleeves and dig into your condition, the more you will be able to get control back. You can learn how to prevent anxiety attacks or burnout from stress by managing your triggers.
Joining a group for support can really help. I’d highly encourage you to join my Healing Center to participate in a community focused on the healing journey. Join my Healing Center now and let’s get started!