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15 sneaky things in your home that trigger anxiety

15 sneaky things in your home that trigger anxiety
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Anxiety triggers aren’t always easy to identify – if fact, they could be the ordinary things in your home that you would never suspect.

Home is supposed to be a safe place

Home is supposed to be a safe place
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Sadly, that’s not true for everyone that suffers from anxiety – which is a sizeable number of people. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2014-15 anxiety disorders affected about 4 million Australians – that’s almost one in five people. Women suffer more than men, and children aren’t immune either. According to Youth Beyond Blue, an estimated 6.9% of kids aged 4 to 17 suffered from an anxiety disorder in 2015. Generalised anxiety disorder is the most common form of anxiety, but there are other types such as panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Treatments vary depending on the disorder and individual but therapy, medication, self-care and avoiding triggers help. Concerned you may have some anxiety tendencies? Check out what’s normal and what’s not.

Not everyone recognises their triggers

Not everyone recognises their triggers
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“The things that make us anxious are different for each person,” says therapist William Schroeder, who runs a counselling service. “Some people may not even notice since these things get woven into day-to-day life.” You might pick up on subtle things like the urge to eat or drink more or zone out. Or the trigger could produce a mild panic attack – a tightening of the stomach or back muscles, say, or your heart rate speeding up.

Your ex’s clothing

Your ex’s clothing
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Your ex’s flannel shirt is still hanging on a hook in your wardrobe, or her coffee mug sits in the cupboard. “It’s not uncommon for a person to come in depressed, stressed, and anxious and they aren’t sure what’s causing it,” says Schroeder. “Often our anxiety runs in the background and we aren’t conscious of it.” Items from past relationships can make you feel sad, depressed, or anxious. “Think about removing those items for a bit if they seem to be causing more negative associations than positive ones,” suggests Schroeder. Like any trauma, it takes time to recover after a divorce. Try these survival tips.

Clocks

Clocks
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A wristwatch or a clock may be a sneaky anxiety trigger because on most occasions we only look at it when we’re preparing to go somewhere or already running late. “I have had some clients who are triggered by the clock; because they often run late the time causes them anxiety and shame. One suggestion I have for them is to use tools like an app that allows them to see a countdown timer on their phone instead of the clock. It’s more useful as it’s tremendously concrete,” says Schroeder. Learning to relax doesn’t always come naturally – here are some ways to introduce a relaxed approach to your day-to-day.

The shower

The shower
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Showering is often the best part of our morning routine because we can relax and linger under the warm water. “Some clients don’t like showering as it can be associated with the scramble to get ready for work,” says Schroeder. “Anxious thoughts can flood their head as they think about their day instead of enjoying the activity of showering.” Schroeder invites his clients to be more mindful of the physical sensations – warm water, steam, cleansing – to take the stress out of getting ready. Try shampoos or soaps with a new scent or even a new showerhead with different settings to create a new experience.

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Stacks of bills and forms

Stacks of bills and forms
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“There is nothing worse than a desk that instantly reminds you of how overwhelmed you feel,” says Schroeder. He suggests a reset: “It just means cleaning up and getting things organized in a way that makes you feel clean and prepared for the next day.” Separate your bills and emails by urgency – the ones you have to deal with today, the next few days, and next week. “It helps to think about what your environment is like and the one or two steps you can take to improve it,” adds Schroeder. Setting up a plan to tackle your debt could also be the best health decision you make all year.

Turn off notifications

Turn off notifications
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Sure there are apps that can help you relax, like a meditation app. But there are thousands of apps that come with a constant stream of notifications. All those pings are especially troublesome for people who have a heightened sensitivity to noise – you might not realise the notifications are making your existing symptoms worse. “I suggest people take the Marie Kondo approach to their apps and clean house and cut out those that don’t bring them joy. Then cut out notifications as much as is possible,” advises Schroeder.

Social media

Social media
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We spend a lot of time on social media. According to analysis conducted by social marketing agency, Disruptive Advertising, worldwide the average person spends about 20 minutes on Facebook, while 1.57 billion YouTube users watch about five billion videos every single day. Gazing at the highlight reels of other people’s lives is a great way to make yours look miserable by comparison – and that can be a gateway to stress and anxiety. Schroeder advises taking regular breaks from social media while reminding yourself that people only tend to post their best life.

The wrong wall colour

The wrong wall colour
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“Colours often are activating for people in a variety of ways,” says Dr Scott Allen, a psychologist. “In our waiting room, we removed items that were red because they triggered several clients,” he says. “Pay attention to how different colours make you feel and read more about the science-backed secrets to creating a stress-free home.

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