By Joelle Jane Marshall

Part of Managing Anxiety with Mindfulness For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Although there is no known formula that can cause anxiety in adults, environment, stress, genetics, upbringing and even modern day living can affect your anxiety. You may recognise the cause of your anxiety or you may not, as sometimes it can appear for no clear reason. Here I have outlined the common causes of anxiety.

  • Genetics: Some studies have shown that anxiety may be caused by genetics. You may have recognised anxiety in a sibling or a parent. This is difficult to research as anxiety can be caused by external factors as well, such as low income or a stressful event that has affected the whole family. A specific gene that causes anxiety has not been identified.

  • Stress: A little bit of stress is good, it keeps you motivated and helps you plan for the future. However chronic stress is not good and can lead to anxiety. Chronic stress can be caused by work troubles, relationship troubles, financial difficulties and social expectations.

  • Thinking: Most anxiety is generated internally by your own thinking, but this is not your fault! Negative or worrying thoughts can easily spiral into a consistent stream of unhelpful thoughts, known as rumination.

  • Childhood: Although the specific causes of anxiety are not known, there is a link between what happens in childhood and developing anxiety as an adult. It may be because you had an anxious parent and copied their behaviour, or you may have experienced abuse, an overly critical parent, an overly protective parent or there may have been alcoholism in the family or some other trauma.

  • Self-perception: How you see yourself, your own perception of yourself, is vitally important. Most people are unaware of the stream of negative thoughts that go through their head and the nasty self-talk they give themselves. This can happen in the case of social anxiety where you feel like someone is judging your behaviour, your clothes and your looks. This negative self-talk is not factual and can be managed with mindfulness.

  • Negative Media: People absorb a lot of information every day without realising whether it is positive or negative. Even though thousands of good deeds happen every day, most of them go unreported, while a lot of the news that is broadcast is negative. If you watch the news consistently and read newspapers, you may feel that the world is a horrible place to live in. This can cause anxiety because you may start to fear that the events on TV could happen to you and this can cause you to worry more.

  • Social Media: Sites like Facebook and Twitter can cause anxiety for two main reasons. One is that they can make you feel inadequate and as if you have to ‘measure up’ to what your friends are doing. For example, friends post about a new house, marriage, new baby, car, new job or a luxury holiday and you may not have any of these at the moment. The second reason is that you are not making any real social connections. If you have anxiety, it’s important for you to go out, meet friends and boost your face-to-face social connections.

  • Mobile phones: Having your phone switched on all day, so anyone can contact you at any time, can be stressful and cause anxiety because (like the phone!) you don’t switch off. When a work email comes through, you feel compelled to answer it at any time of the day and night. Technology should help alleviate your stress, not cause further anxiety.