Avoiding Anxiety Triggers Isn’t Always Possible

October 7, 2014 Gabe Howard

Avoiding anxiety triggers is a great plan, but not a realistic one. Sometimes you must manage anxiety by facing anxiety triggers, not avoiding them. Here's how.

Managing an anxiety disorder is a bit like navigating a minefield. There are safe places to step and there are dangerous places to step. The trick to navigating a minefield successfully is to not step on any mines, which is made easier by being able to detect where the mines are buried. The trick to navigating anxiety is much the same. Avoid the anxiety and/or panic attack by knowing how to avoid the triggers.

Unlike anxiety, a mine has the decency to only explode once. But it is possible to have anxiety be triggered by the same thing multiple times. If loud noises give you anxiety, they will continue to give you anxiety. If you can avoid loud noises, you’ll be fine.

But what can be done about anxiety triggers that you can’t avoid? What if the only path through the field is to step on the mine?

Anxiety Triggers Can’t Always Be Avoided

For many who are managing an anxiety disorder, people are anxiety triggers. It would be nice if all the people who caused us anxiety could be removed from our lives, but that isn't a realistic option.

To put it frankly, anxiety triggers can’t always be avoided. Along the same lines, the behavior that triggers us can’t always be avoided either. If your boss triggers you by telling you what to do, it isn't possible to avoid that. A boss’s job is to, well, boss you around.

Items, places, and circumstances are in the same category. Not everything is avoidable, not matter how hard we try. Trying to avoid the unavoidable is one the principle causes of agoraphobia.

Fight Anxiety Realistically

The truth is that sometimes we just can’t beat anxiety. If our workplace, to continue the example above, is truly causing crippling panic attacks and anxiety, then you might not be well enough to hold a job at this time. It becomes a question of how to live with what you cannot control.

Anxiety triggers can’t always be avoided. Managing anxiety isn't about hoping the world changes, it is about thriving in the world as it is.There were times during my recovery where I couldn't work and there were times I couldn't leave my house. The focus of my recovery didn't become how to avoid having a job or how to get the entire world to happen in my home. It became about what tools I needed to manage my illness so I could get back out there.

We must fight anxiety realistically. Some of my worst panic attacks were caused by a job I no longer have in an industry I no longer work in. The pressure and stress of the job were more than I could handle. To put it another way, I was unable to perform the requirements of the job. Managing my illness meant I had to find a different job and part of that process was mourning what I had lost.

The same is true of almost everything. Managing anxiety isn't about hoping the world bends to us, it is about us thriving in the world. It is about accepting our limitations and finding a path we can successfully walk.

Through therapy, medication, hard work, and experience, I learned to manage my anxiety around some unavoidable triggers. (Anxiety Disorder Treatments Are Effective) Some things I had to replace entirely and sometimes I have setbacks.

We can’t judge ourselves for living with anxiety and all that encompasses. We need to focus on the little goals, acknowledge our successes, and celebrate the fact that while anxiety might win an occasional battle, we are doing all that we can to win the war.

You can find Gabe on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and his website.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2014, October 7). Avoiding Anxiety Triggers Isn’t Always Possible, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Gabe Howard

October, 20 2014 at 5:06 am

Has anyone ever had a service dog to help with anxiety triggers? I am researching this possibility. I especially need a dog to alert me when someone approaches from my blind side, to shield me from crowds and provide a calm presence at medical appointments. I would be interested in hearing your experiences with service dogs.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
October, 20 2014 at 2:59 pm

Hi Jodi - I have never used a service dog but I know folks who have. If it helps you -- then I say "why not!" Good luck and thank you for reading. :) ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 31 2014 at 8:41 pm

I Know this woman in the waterloo region who had an anxiety disorder and other medical problems, sugars and that,,, and this dog literally kept her cool, calm and collected. She passed a while ago, it was sad, but I know her dogs, she had two the time during I knew her, kept her spirits and way majorly prolonged her life.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
November, 3 2014 at 11:30 am

Thank you for sharing. :) ~Gabe

Thomas Balboa
October, 13 2014 at 10:08 am

I have been fighting to avoid my triggers for several months now, but I just couldn't take it anymore and quit this morning. I had a boss who liked to sit at her desk in her office and yell instructions to people who were within earshot, which meant me and a few other people. I learned to just say, " Yes, ma'am, " and go on with my day. Then I had a conflict with a co-worker, and caught most of the heat, and even though everyone felt things were resolved, I feel so much embarrassment and shame that I can't bring myself to go back and face those people. I know I could've gone on. I just couldn't get out of my head.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
October, 14 2014 at 11:03 am

Thomas, that has happened to me as well. It is a tough spot to be in and is difficult. I wish you the best in your recovery and hope you find a better situation. Keep your head up, don't judge yourself, and move forward. Thanks for reading and commenting. ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2014 at 5:35 am

I'm suffering from anxiety I need help plz?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2014 at 1:07 pm

Hello Carlos_kwon,
You are taking an important step in seeking out information about anxiety. Read articles and blogs, and read what people comment. Also, it's advisable to have a consultation with a doctor and/or therapist, for professional help is often very helpful. Don't give up, and know that you're not alone.

I. Ritchie
October, 13 2014 at 9:25 am

This article is very reassuring and I could completely identify with it - in fact it could have been me that wrote it! It serves as a reminder to me that I'm not the only person in the world navigating my own personal anxiety 'minefield'. I'm not alone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
October, 14 2014 at 11:01 am

Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I used to feel alone -- and it serves as the primary reason I write. To not only inspire others -- BUT to connect with them. There are many of us and there is safety in numbers! Feel free to share. ~Gabe

Dodie Anderson
October, 7 2014 at 6:22 pm

Thank you for exploring this topic and offering insight. Your last paragraph rings true for me; focus on the successes when things get rough. That usually builds my esteem enough to keep going forward without feeling so defeated.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
October, 9 2014 at 9:35 am

You are very welcome, Dodie. I appreciate you reading and commenting. :) THANK YOU! ~Gabe

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