Let’s face it, we’ve all been anxious at some point in our lives, with feelings of unease, worry and fear. It’s easy to recognise certain situations that can make us react in this way, such as a job interview or medical test. But did you know that things we come into contact with on a daily basis could be triggering our anxiety?

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CAFFEINE

There’s nothing like a coffee to get you going in the morning, but drinking it to excess could be doing you no favours. Felix Economakis, chartered counselling psychologist and hypnotist, says, ‘Caffeine is a stimulant that excites the nervous system. This is useful if we have something we need to be alert about, but less useful if we don’t, in which case we’re creating an alert state with no outlet, making us feel on edge.’ Swap your coffee for a herbal tea.

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PHONES

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For most of us, our phone is the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we look at before we go to sleep. But could this be harming our mental health? Tim Grimwade,  cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist, says, ‘Our phones can allow us to see when others last viewed our messages, and if there’s a delay in response, our anxious mind is prone to find a more sinister meaning behind them. “Am I being ignored?”, “Are they chatting to someone else?”, “Have I said the wrong thing?” Turn your phone onto aeroplane mode and try 10 minutes of light meditation every morning. Headspace, Free, App Store

ALCOHOL

Whether it’s a birthday, work event, anniversary or just meeting the girls for the evening, there’s always something going on in our social lives that gives us a reason to reach for a glass – or more. If you’re a naturally anxious person, consider the benefits of reducing your alcohol intake. Tim says, ‘Social anxiety can reduce after just one or two glasses of wine, but we all know that it doesn’t always stop there. The morning-after hangover isn’t just a physical ordeal but a mental torment, too. The anxiety returns with a vengeance, to remind the sufferer of their indiscretions and faux pas the night before.’ An alcohol-free drink flavoured like our favourite cocktail? We’ll take it, no probs. 

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LACK OF SLEEP

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They say the average adult needs between seven and nine hours’ sleep per night and if you’re lacking in those well-earned zzzs, it’s not only tiredness you’ll be feeling. Felix says, ‘A good sleep is a bit like a toilet flushing away all the worries of the day – which gives rise to the age-old advice to “sleep on it”. Sleep calms worries and repairs the body, and if the body isn’t rested, you’ll most probably feel sluggish, irritable and less focused, which, in turn, causes increased stress and anxiety.’ If you’re suffering from disturbed sleep, try a warm, relaxing bubble bath before bed. 

SUGAR

It seems that there’s lashings of the sweet stuff in practically everything these days, and it’s not just your waistline it’s affecting.Professer Stephen Palmer, founder director of the Centre for Stress Management, says, ‘Whenever your blood sugar level changes too fast, your adrenal glands release cortisol to pull it back up again. Unstable sugar levels can make you react in the same way as you would when an event makes you angry, frustrated or frightened.’ Keep some low sugar snacks on your desk at work.

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