Being too near a main road

It’s not just that they’re loud and come with a heightened risk of being caught in a collision; main roads can trigger a person’s anxiety for another reason. One study showed that when all other factors were accounted for, women who were living 50 to 200 meters from a major roadway were more likely to experience anxiety than those who lived further away, due to air pollution.

Not eating lunch

Everyone knows that eating regular meals is good for your physical health, but it’s good for your mental health too. When you don’t eat three square meals a day, your blood sugar can drop to inconvenient levels, bringing with it a heightened risk of nervousness, agitation, anger and anxiety. If you really can’t sit down for a proper lunch, then have snacks on hand.

Being too hot

Whether you spend all winter dreaming of scorching beaches or close your curtains at the first hint of sun, being too warm can be disastrous for your sense of calm. Not only does heat exacerbate dehydration and make you unable to focus, which can contribute to anxiety, but it can also cause a faster heart rate and rapid breathing, tricking your brain into thinking you’re panicking.

Too much caffeine

Tons of people truly can’t focus without their morning cup of coffee, but if you find that your first cup of joe makes you feel jittery and scattered rather than motivated and collected, you might want to change tack. Drinking a caffeinated beverage when you’ve just woken up can spike your cortisol levels, leading to increased anxiety and stress that lasts all day.

Your regular medications

Any medications you take regularly probably serve an important function in your life, but it’s still worth unpacking how they make you feel. Many birth control pills and weight loss medications have noted side effects that include increased mood swings, anxiety, irritability and depression. If you’re experiencing these symptoms to an undue level, a doctor should be able to recommend an alternative.

Being sick

It’s obvious that being sick in bed can cause your body to feel like it’s operating at less than 100%, but battling a germ can affect your brain too. Not only can being dehydrated and improperly nourished cause feelings of anxiety, but many over-the-counter cold medicines contain antihistamines and dextromethorphan, two ingredients that can also make you feel on edge.

Being inside for too long

Some people’s idea of a perfect day includes a five-mile hike, a woodland picnic and a bike ride along the river to finish. Other people prefer not to move from the sofa from 10am to 10pm. With that said, if you fall into the latter category and find your anxiety creeping up seemingly without explanation, it’s probably because you haven’t spent enough time outdoors.

Not eating enough greens

From how much coffee you drink to how much sugar you consume on a daily basis, your diet plays a huge part in determining your baseline anxiety level. One way to ensure your body is properly primed to keep you calm and collected is to eat enough leafy greens, eggs, nuts and fruits, as a diet lacking in these things can lead to anxiety.

Having news notifications on your phone

Reading the news isn’t just part of being a responsible and active citizen, it’s also good for your mental sharpness. With that said, if your phone is constantly going off with pings on every international disaster, political scandal or celebrity downfall story, then you may want to contain your reading to a physical newspaper. Not being able to switch off is a common cause of anxiety.

Being surrounded by clutter

As many cleaning experts and interior decorators have said, it’s impossible to be calm in a chaotic environment. If your utility room is overflowing with laundry, you have to prevent an avalanche of mugs every time you open a kitchen cupboard and you don’t remember what colour your bedroom rug is, then chances are you’re also dealing with feelings of nervousness, agitation and anxiety.

Lack of sleep

It’s no secret that sleep is important for health and well-being. And when it comes to anxiety, the link is clear: People who don’t get enough sleep over an extended period of time are more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety. In some people, small changes in their sleep habits can make a big difference.

Eating too many processed carbs

A healthy diet can help you manage your anxiety. The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania found that people who eat well are less likely to be sensitive to anxiety triggers. Researchers have also found that eating a lot of processed carbohydrates can increase your risk of anxiety, likely due to the change in blood glucose levels.

Skipping meals

When you skip meals, your blood sugar can drop. This can cause you to feel jittery, have a rumbling stomach, and feel anxious. Eating balanced meals helps you stay energized, focused, and healthy. When you’re pressed for time, healthy snacks can help prevent low blood sugar, feelings of nervousness and anxiety.

The apps on your phone

If you’re having trouble focusing, then it might be time to clean out your smartphone. Go through all your apps one by one and delete the ones you haven’t used in six months or more. Sort the remaining apps into folders by type. By doing this, you will be able to quickly access important information without having to scroll through pages and pages of icons.

Specific scents

Our brains connect scent and memory, which means that a particular smell can trigger an emotional response, and the wrong scents can cause anxiety and discomfort. Use your senses to create an environment that suits your needs. You might want to use different scents in different rooms or change the smell of a particular room.

Your inbox

The idea of having an empty email inbox may sound appealing, but it’s not realistic. The truth is you don’t need to get rid of all your emails — just the ones that aren’t important. If you open an email and don’t need to respond, just trash it or move it into another folder.

Lack of exercise

It’s normal to miss a workout now and then, but if you’re having trouble sticking to a schedule, it could be affecting your mood. Physical activity boosts mental health in a variety of ways. A meta-analysis published in Cochrane Systematic Review found that exercise may help lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Your clothing

If you work from home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wearing pajamas all day. But having a set schedule can help you feel more productive and in control. For example, you could start your day wearing pajamas, workout over lunch, then, change into something more professional for the rest of the day. This can help you feel more productive during work hours.

Weight loss supplements

Some weight loss supplements contain side effects that can cause anxiety. St. John’s wort, for example, may lead to insomnia, and green tea extracts contain caffeine. Some diet products contain Guarana, an ingredient that contains up to four times as much caffeine as coffee beans. The herb ephedra can also cause increased heart rate and anxiety.

Not drinking enough water

A 2009 study at Tufts University found that even mild dehydration can make students feel angry, confused and fatigued. Drinking enough water each day may be one of the easiest ways to help keep your body healthy. Not only does water flush out toxins, but it also helps the body’s physiological functions run smoothly.

Artificial sweeteners

Many people report feeling moody and anxious after consuming man-made sweeteners like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. While the links between artificial food additives and mood are still being investigated, some researchers believe they may be a cause of ADHD and autism in children.

Spending too much time on social media

Studies show that teens and young adults who spend too much time on social media are more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Another study from the non-profit Anxiety UK found that users of social media often compare themselves unfavorably to others, get stressed when they can’t access their accounts, and even have difficulty sleeping after browsing social media.

Being too hot

Heat can make you irritable and dehydrated, causing your energy levels to drop. It can also make you breathe faster and raise your heart rate – symptoms that could lead to panic attacks. If you start experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat or shortness of breath, take a few deep breaths and get somewhere where you can relax and cool down.

Spending too much time alone

You need to take time for yourself sometimes but don’t forget about connecting with family and friends. If you’re alone too often, your anxiety may grow. If you are feeling anxious, make plans with a friend to keep yourself occupied. Social interaction is important for our mental health.

Running late

Are you the type of person who’s always running late? Planning enough time to get from point A to point B can have a positive effect on your mental health. People who are chronically late often have a scattered and anxious personality. Try to be 15 minutes early for appointments and other events.

Social gatherings

Many people find social interactions to be stressful. For example, if you have social anxiety disorder and find yourself in a room full of unfamiliar people, it can trigger anxiety. If you have a hard time navigating social situations, try bringing someone you trust to accompany you. Or talk to a therapist, who can help you develop coping strategies.

Allergies and intolerances

Food allergies can cause digestive issues, stomach pain and breathing difficulties, all of which can cause anxiety. Research has shown that food allergies may also worsen mood. Common food allergies like gluten, soy, and dairy can cause hormone levels and other vital chemicals in your brain to fluctuate.

Nutritional deficiencies

Vitamins and minerals are essential for your body to function properly. Vitamins B, C and E are all important for the central nervous system. Magnesium is a known stress reliever and selenium helps control your mood. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are also essential to keeping your anxiety in check.

Being a parent

Becoming a parent is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Many parents-to-be worry about how they will do in their new role, as well as the health of the baby and childbirth itself. But stress in pregnancy is not good for the mother or the baby (or the father, for that matter). If you are anxious about being pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider.

Getting older

As people age, they often face stress brought on by multiple sources – health problems and memory lapses, the deaths of loved ones, or even seemingly happy events such as retirement. According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, 10-20% of older adults suffer from anxiety. This number is probably higher, as many people do not recognize their symptoms or do not seek treatment.

Drinking too much

Hangovers can make you feel anxious by messing with your brain and making you feel like you need to vomit. They can also interfere with your sleep cycle, which can make you feel more anxious and depressed. If you drink often and experience frequent hangovers, your anxiety levels will likely increase over time.

Your pets

Having a pet can be wonderful, but also potentially stressful. For example, if you’re spending the whole day at home with your pet and don’t get any time away from them, this might lead to them getting bored and misbehaving. If you’re sharing a bed with your pet, they might disturb your sleep, which can make you more prone to stress, anxiety and depression.

Binge-watching television

When you’re feeling down in the dumps, it’s tempting to curl up on the couch and watch TV for hours on end. Whilst you shouldn’t give up TV marathons completely, it’s also important to find other ways to reduce stress – preferably activities that get you up off the couch and out of the house into fresh air.

Keeping a journal

It’s great to write a daily journal to help manage your anxiety, but make sure you’re not substituting this for talking to someone in person. When we don’t share our concerns with others, we can become overwhelmed by our unspoken worries. You don’t need to abandon your journal, but it’s important that you talk about your feelings with someone who can help you.

Household chores

Checking things off your to-do list can be a feel-good activity, but if you’re rushing through everything just to feel accomplished, it might contribute to your anxiety. Samu, a Zen Buddhist practice of cleaning mindfully, can help you find fulfillment in even the most mundane tasks.


Genetics can also play a role in anxiety. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, you may be more likely to have it as well. If you’re worried about your mental health, it’s important to be aware of your family history and take steps to reduce anxiety. This can include talking to a therapist or taking medication.

Low blood sugar

Research shows that low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause a number of symptoms including irritability and irrational behavior. When your blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause your brain to fail. Although there is no direct link between hypoglycemia and panic attacks, the anxiety and uncontrolled behavior from low blood sugar can lead to episodes of anxiety.


Meditating is a popular way to reduce anxiety, but for some people, it can actually make anxiety worse. Someone who has a very busy brain and doubts their ability to achieve a “zen” state may find that meditation exacerbates things. If you’re dealing with anxiety, try replacing your daily meditation practice with something else that relieves stress, like going outside or drawing.

Items from past relationships

When you break up with someone, it’s common to hold on to objects associated with that person. It can be hard to let go of things that remind us of happier times. However, items from past relationships can trigger negative emotions like sadness and anxiety. If this is the case for you, it may help to remove those items for a bit.


A wristwatch or a clock may be an anxiety trigger because when you look at it, you’re reminded that you have somewhere to be. Some people are bothered by clocks; they often run late and the consequences of this behavior cause them anxiety and shame.