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I’ve been in a long, complicated relationship with my anxiety.
It has become a powerful entity that lives in my mind and refuses to retreat. I’ve tried different methods and practices to keep it at bay. Some work; others don’t. Some are temporary; others are enduring.
Throughout the years and many personal struggles, it has become clear to me that I can’t exactly control my anxiety. When the feeling of fear or worry takes over my body, it becomes difficult for me to work with it.
Recently, I have grown tired of that feeling. It’s strenuous; it’s messy; it’s ineffable. Its existence in my body, even if it’s only for a few minutes, can ruin my entire day. And I’m tired. I want out.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day when I came across an upsetting post. Usually, reading an interesting headline or story is never enough for me. I would spend hours on other social media platforms looking for more details and information. And most times, the details I seek are disturbing.
Consequently, my curiosity is my worst enemy. It does no good, and it only aggravates my anxiety. When I read that upsetting news, I paused for a minute. I asked myself if I’d like to know more, and if I did, how would it make me feel?
The answer was clear: I shouldn’t know more. Not only did I skip that news, but I unfollowed the account too—because all their posts tend to be triggering.
Since that day, I’ve learned something that everyone who struggles with anxiety should know:
Identifying what triggers you or your anxiety is the best gift you can give yourself.
It could be an Instagram account, a headline, a TV show, a person, a book, an event, or something as simple as a distant memory. Whatever it is, identify it. If we really want to keep our anxiety at bay, we need to get to the source. And the source doesn’t lie in our bodies; it’s in our minds.
The fight-or-flight reaction that slowly builds up in our system is only a response. The root cause of that response is the thoughts we harbor. In my case, I’ve been harboring upsetting thoughts, coming from upsetting sources.
To stop the (ugly) mental response from reaching my body, I need to recognize the trigger behind it.
If you suffer from anxiety, please don’t take triggers lightly. With time and practice, we can develop coping strategies for avoiding feeling anxious or disturbed. We’re not running away from reality; we’re only readjusting it in a way that might be helpful to us.
Here are a few tips that might help you identify your major stressors:
>> Listen to your body and recognize disturbing feelings when they come up.
>> Keep track of activities or situations that add fuel to the fire.
>> Slowly eliminate them from your routine.
>> Notice how you feel without your stressors.
>> Practice daily.