Your question: Why do I get anxiety in certain places?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Through this blog I would like to explain the origin of your anxiety, specifying why it occurs in certain places and suggesting strategies to cope with the feeling of anxiety.

Anxiety is natural and necessary in our daily life, as it implies that your brain is processing a threat, either real or imaginary, and asks your body to act according to it. This response is called “Fight or Flight” and implies that you face the situation that generates anxiety or that you avoid it to protect yourself from danger.

The problem is when anxiety becomes too recurrent and intense, popping up at undesirable times that cause emotional problems. Although it may not seem like it, anxiety always has a cause or origin, and is related to anxious and involuntary thoughts that appear during the day.

When anxiety occurs repeatedly in a specific place, it means that there is something in particular related to that place or places that generates a significant concern or fear. Your mind and body have learned to associate that physical place with the feeling of anxiety, and often just imagining the place is enough to make you feel anxious.

Therefore, you need to find the source of your anxiety in this specific place before you can address your anxious symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What places generate anxiety?

Since anxiety is not rational, that is, it does not have to have a logical reason to appear, it can be experienced anywhere. Depending on the specific place(s) where you feel anxiety, the approach will depend, since they will mean different things.


Whether in an office, restaurant or even at home, the workplace can generate anxiety because it is associated with stressful responsibilities. If your job is very demanding, your anxiety may be present only when you arrive at this place.

Educational Institution

From school to college, being a student is complicated. There are demands to meet, tests to pass, and a personal life to balance with your studies. For many people, their school is the source of their anxiety. As soon as they arrive at their school, university campus or classroom, they feel anxiety take over their body, because the stress and worry of having good academic results overwhelm them.

Public places

If your anxiety occurs only when you are in public places, whether they are shopping malls, movie theaters, supermarkets or public transportation, it is likely that your anxiety is called Agoraphobia(1). Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs in public and crowded spaces, and is related to a person’s fear of being unable to flee the place if an incident occurs. It is also related to previous traumatic experiences that the person lived in a public place, such as a bank robbery.

Your home

For some people, the feeling of anxiety occurs as soon as they get home from work or school. This happens because there can be multiple causes of anxiety at home, for example, childcare for parents or arguments and fights, if you live in a conflictual home.

How can you manage anxiety?

Your anxiety caused by one or more specific places can be alleviated, but first you must recognize what your anxiety triggers are. If your anxiety problem occurs specifically at work, you must identify what aspects of your job make you feel anxious: the relationship with your boss and co-workers or the pressure to fulfill responsibilities.

Once you have identified this, you can begin to take action to alleviate the annoying anxiety symptoms that come on abruptly.

Relaxation and breathing

Anxiety destabilizes your body with annoying symptoms that are difficult to control, but through progressive relaxation and slow breathing you can cope with your anxiety episodes and diminish the symptoms. Whether you are alone or in public, relaxation allows you to relieve these symptoms. Close your eyes and inhale and exhale in 3-second intervals. In the meantime, repeat in your mind key phrases that generate motivation and pride. “You can deal with this situation,” “You have been through this before and have been able to get through it,” “You have the strength to deal with this problem,” to name a few examples.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This technique(2) consists of using your senses to dissuade emotional discomfort at a specific moment. It is useful when you are experiencing a lot of physical agitation or you feel that you have a lot of unpleasant thoughts, and find it difficult to control your emotions. Wherever you are, you will focus on identifying 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Whether you are in your house, in your job or school, or a public place, you can sit and practice this exercise in silence, breathing slowly as you do it as many times as you feel necessary to decrease the anxious symptoms.

In my experience…

Having anxiety about a specific place is just as normal as feeling anxious about a particular person or at a particular time of day. Everything has its origin, and anxiety is no exception. Your anxiety does not show up specifically at work or at the supermarket by pure chance, and by doing some introspective work looking for the cause, it will be easier for you to implement strategies that will help you improve your quality of life.

Remember that you have the ability to improve your psychological state, even if during moments of anxiety or depression you feel hopeless. You can always make small changes that will pay off in the long run. The fact that you are contacting me to seek professional attention in psychological counseling is already a step, and I recognize and applaud you for that. You are already doing something and wanting to change always leads you in the right direction.

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