In an earlier post, we touched on what triggers are, and how loved ones can help in situations where triggers surface.
Lets recap a little bit….
To be “triggered” is to experience an emotional, mental and/or physical reaction to something based on past traumas. Triggers can be people, places, substances, or anything else that serves as reminders of the trauma. Oftentimes, triggers throw people back into a place of distress, pain, anger, paranoia, panic, frustration and more. This can result in anxiety or panic attacks, dissociation, and “survival” (fight or flight) mode, and can be extremely disruptive for each individual healing process.
This post is all about how we can help ourselves when our triggers arise.
These are a few things that have worked for us – please keep in mind that every experience and every brain processes situations differently.
Staying Aware and Grounded
Try to stay in the present moment. Triggers can bring up years worth of trauma that’ve been pushed down. Being aware of your body, the emotions that you’re experiencing, how you respond to different scenarios… These are all crucial to moving forward in your healing journey and getting over the “bumps in the moment” that are caused by triggers. Being aware of the present moment will help you stay out of crisis mode so you can move forward in a more productive way.
Here are some ways that we do that:
Tapping into our 5 senses
What’re 5 things you can see? Smell? Hear? Taste? Feel?
Even if it’s just going for a walk around the block, getting your body moving is a great way to release some of those unwanted feelings and tension that have surfaced. This can also be in the form of lifting weights, going for runs, yoga, etc.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. We cannot stress this enough. If you need to slow down, do so. If you need to cry, cry. If you need a nap, take one. If your body needs fuel, give it nutrients and hydration. This is also a form of self care.
Have a bubble bath if you need to. Eat that chocolate bar you’ve been eyeing up at the gas station. Do an extreme skin care routine. Buy yourself flowers because you deserve to feel good. We have whole blog posts on self care HERE and HERE.
Meditation is an incredible technique you can use to keep yourself grounded. Tapping into your inner self and being aware of your breath is a really good way to help bring yourself out of an anxiety attack if a trigger sets one off.
This one is HUGE. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, and take a break from those who don’t. When you’re stuck in the “my life sucks” mindset, everything around you will start to become negative. Follow instagram pages that inspire you and bring you joy ONLY and delete or mute all pages that make you feel negative in any way.
Don’t get us wrong, feeling like that is totally normal and totally okay, but if you dwell, everything starts to feel really heavy and it can become unbearable. When in the midst of a trigger induced attack, be mindful of how you’re feeling, but try not to let it drown you. I know it’s easier said than done, but hear us out.
Try to focus on 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things that happened during the day to make you smile, 3 things you’re looking forward to. Write it down in that journal if you can.
Writing / Journalling
Journaling is an incredible way to keep track of things that trigger you, your emotions, goals, etc. Keeping a journal is a great way to find out where you really are, emotionally. Writing is easily one of the safest and most powerful ways for you to connect with your deepest feelings. You may notice that you are writing down truths that you were not previously aware of. You can write whatever you want, in whatever way you want. It’s your journal, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Sometimes, it might be 5 pages long. Other times it might just be a sentence. It’s all valid and helpful.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT – Accept your truth
This doesn’t mean just acknowledging when you’re triggered or that you’ve suffered trauma to some degree. Accepting your truth can be tough, and may require you to dig up things you may have been avoiding for a while.
Acknowledge that you HAVE anxiety, but it doesn’t have you. Accept the fact that maybe you’re coping strategies aren’t the healthiest, but you want to work on them. Accept the fact that you’re not the one to blame for your trauma.
Calling on your friends or family when you feel your brain start to settle into the “fight or flight” mode is a good way to keep your mind occupied. Whether you talk about how you’re feeling, or you talk about how your day was before you started to feel triggered, talking helps. Having a solid support system that knows your story and knows the things that may “set you off” is ideal. They don’t have to understand your truth like you do, but they’ll show you the love and support that you may struggle to give yourself. Surround yourself with people who want to see you improve and will help you get to the best version of yourself, if you are blessed enough to have those people in your lives. If you do not, send us an email and we’d love to be a part of your support system.
Like I said before, talking helps. Talking to a professional that has the tools to help you cope with your emotions and guide you in a direction that is going to benefit you, is detrimental for your healing journey. Plus, they may know more about you, than you do. They’ll be able to give you strategies to maneuver your way through triggers and the ups and downs of being a survivor. I encourage you to go now, if you have the means, even if you’re feeling okay.
Last but not least…. HAVING FAITH.
Have faith in yourself that you can heal.
You can move forward from your past traumas.
You will conquer your triggers.
You are no longer a victim.
We know sometimes finding the motivation to take these steps can be overwhelming, or feel unreachable at times.
We have been there too. Especially when you are also dealing with other things, such as depression or any other mental struggle that is a result of trauma. You might not find success if you try to implement all of this at the same time in one go, so find one or two to start that seem doable to you, and write them down so that when you are triggered, you know what to do. Not all these things work for everyone, it takes some time to find what works for you and you might need to try a couple different things. Try to make them a habit by implementing them into your regular lifestyle to begin with – which will make acting on them when you are triggered more doable.
This could look like a simple list in your phone that looks something like this:
- Put clothes on – not pyjamas
- Make smoothie
- Youtube Yoga or Walk the dog
- Sit down and make a list of ONLY the things you HAVE to get done today. Everything that’s not of utmost importance – put on a separate list of things to do later in the week. Clear your schedule to prioritize your time for restoration – things that will improve your mental health.)
Try making your own list today, and the next time you are triggered or stuck in “survival mode” – take out your phone list for guidance on what you can try in that moment to feel better.
We’d love to hear what works for you in these moments. If you have any tricks we didn’t mention, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment them on this post! We are all in this together!
All our love,
R + K