Welcome back to Thats What Pea Said…
Here is the first installment of 26 Ways To Promote Self Care A – Avoiding Triggers
Trigger (noun) an event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation…
In my earlier post 5 Ways I Reduce My Anxiety I touched upon the fact that not all triggers are within our control, however some of them are. With regards to our Mental Health, triggers are usually related to trauma which we have previously experienced. They cause us to feel panic; anxiety or distress and in some cases flashbacks.
Internal triggers are harder to avoid because we have less control over them (our thoughts can come from nowhere) whereas external triggers are commonly caused by people, places and situations, our external experiences, become our internal triggers. Once you have identified your triggers, it’s easier to address your reactions and hopefully learn how to avoid them.
External triggers may include:
Related memories, news/footage, scents, anniversary’s, relationships, locations
The physical and internal attributes of triggers include:
Feelings of: anger, anxiety, sadness, feelings of isolation, racing heartbeat, physical pain
Once you have identified your triggers, you can consider the origins of them. When assessing your triggers, ask yourself the following: What types of situations are causing these feelings? What emotions are you feeling? How does your body feel? What thoughts are going through your head? It may be beneficial to keep a trigger journal.
In an ideal world, there are two ways to deal with external triggers:
A – avoid them all together
B – face them head on
External triggers are generally easier to avoid, however this isn’t a fool-proof solution. We have the power to control some of our environment, but there are times when we need to face our triggers, however unpleasant they may be.
Having assessed that it is not always possible to avoid triggers, it is possible to address how we react to them by learning effective and healthy coping mechanisms to enable damage limitation.
From experience, identifying triggers has enabled me to create a Trigger Action Plan. This was a valuable skill which my Life Coach taught me. I recently found myself in a situation whereby I was almost certain I would not be able to avoid the person who was my trigger. I had made it clear to the said person that I wanted nothing to do with them. The said person, then made it clear that they were not going to respect my boundaries. Naturally this caused great anxiety. In order to be able to face the situation (head on) my Life Coach assisted me in creating a Trigger Action Plan. This eased the anxiety, should the situation arise. I had taken control of my emotions and what my response should be. My Action Plan included: letting my friends who I was with know how I felt and the boundaries which were being compromised, along with a plan to walk away and should the situation have escalated my friends had a plan to inform security.
Trigger Action Plans will vary depending on the situation, but you get the idea...
If you are unable to avoid something which triggers an uncomfortable and negative response, there are a number of ways in which you can shift your emotional state.
Relax: breathe slowly and deeply to release the tension from your body
Detach: vision your mind clear of all thoughts
Centre: feel grounded, channel your core
Focus: decide how you want to feel and channel your thoughts until they begin to shift
When feeling triggered, it is important to remind yourself that your feelings are valid and these feelings, however unpleasant will always pass… If you find that the above techniques are not beneficial to reducing your reactions and are affecting you emotional well being it is advisable to seek professional support.
Here are some organisations you can contact:
Trigger are unpleasant…
Be mindful of your past and focus on being in your present moment.
Thanks for reading,