I had never heard the word ‘trigger’ until recently. I would never have thought of using that word to describe my bouts of depression or anxiety that overcame me after facing certain events. After reading stories on a message board that focuses on motherhood and other family issues, I discovered that the word, trigger, was used quite often.
My curiosity got the best of me, so I did research into what a trigger is, and how it’s defined. Known as a trauma trigger, it’ an experience that causes someone to remember a specific traumatic memory. The trigger itself may not be what frightens you, but it may lead to a bout of anxiety or panic after the memory resurfaces. I soon realized that my bouts of anxiety and racing thoughts were the results of these memory triggers that I faced during my parent’s divorce. After all this time, I could finally put a name to my condition and begin to come to terms with it.
When my parents divorced, it wasn’t the easiest time in my life. I made a lot of tough decisions, and between my parent’s inability to co-parent well in the beginning, I found my thoughts spiraling out of control to the point that they became unstoppable. To this day, when I face situations that are reminiscent of their divorce, my thoughts go out of control and I immediately feel panic to settle in. The difference between now and then, is my capability to handle the effects of facing a trigger and to let it go before it leads to a possible panic attack.
Here are some effective and natural coping mechanisms that I have found in helping battle the effects of traumatic triggers. I hope that they can help you as well.
1. Take a walk or run
Exercise has been instrumental in my life. It’s the release I need to not only feel better, but to also clear my mind from these negative thoughts. When my mind starts to race and my heart begins to pound, I try to do some form of exercise at times. I put my headphones in, and I either go outside or take a trip to the local gym.
The feeling of negative emotions and anxiety is soon replaced with a positive flow of endorphins and overwhelming satisfaction. It is also nice, aside from just breaking away from the racing thoughts, as you also burn a few calories as well.
2. Pursue a hobby
It could be ceramics, sewing, playing a sport or writing. Any positive activity that can get you away from letting the bad thoughts or anxieties creep up on you. That is how I find my way back to writing. When I felt the racing thoughts, anxious emotions and negative feelings overcoming me, I turned to one of my hobbies to help in subsiding them.
When your mind is occupied elsewhere, your focus and thoughts can be distracted and placed upon more uplifting activities. You will be more relieved and less anxious while keeping yourself busy with other tasks. These outside positive outlets can be highly effective in easing the negative thoughts due to a trigger that can be debilitating.
3. Take a soothing bath
I sometimes soak in a lavender epsom bath to help create a relaxing atmosphere. While some may think that having solitary can only make your mind race even more, I find by adding the lavender, it puts me in a calm place. I feel better, and the smell of lavender is sweet and easily calms both my mind and body. Taking a bath also gives me time to breathe, not be in a hurry and to focus on the moment. It is a great place for mindfulness, should you not be able to find time throughout the day to fit in a moment for yourself.
Next time you are able to squeeze in a bath, take that time to breathe, focus on the moment and just let yourself soak in the warmth of water. It is a truly a great place to rest yourself and to wash away the negativity.
4. Call a friend or family member
Shutting people out was easy for me to do when I found my depression or the aftereffects of a trigger settle in. I wasn’t excited about being around other people or having to put up a front that all was well with me. After talking to a counsellor, she advised me to do the opposite. She advised me to push myself to be around the public, and to continue a sense of normalcy for myself. I listened, and found myself calling my loved ones if I felt my anxiety start to ramp up. Talking to my family made me realize that I had people around who loved me and that I would be okay. It placated my depression and anxiety, and eased my restless thoughts.
Don’t ever be afraid to make a call when feeling down or anxious, because you are only a phone call away from those who love you.
5. Watch a good movie, TV show or read a good book
I have found another easy and effective way to put my anxious and negative emotions at bay; Turning on a good movie or opening up an addictive book (even if I have read it before). Both of these avenues have been instrumental in keeping myself positive and in not giving into my emotional lows. Investing some time and energy in a TV show and its characters can help take your mind away from the heaviness of that specific moment, and place it in a fictional world that’s far unlike your own. You may even find that you relate to a character, or get to know other people who like the same show as you do. You can build friendships and give yourself something to look forward to throughout the week.
This recommendation though isn’t something that goes to the root of the problem, its just a nice way of allowing for some space.
6. Change or exchange your habits
Sometimes, or rather most of the times, it is the habits we’ve accumulated during our lifetime that are responsible for how we function as human beings. In other words, deep rooted habits which you might have consciously or unconsciously reinforced over a long time are most likely responsible for how you act, feel and react on a daily basis.
The habit of getting triggered by specific situations and things is not any different.
How do you go about exchanging these negative modes of living life?
Try something different, as was recommended when discussing the pursuit of hobbies. Though the difference being that these habits don’t need to be something overly concrete. It could be small things, like exchanging 5 minutes of stress for 5 minutes of meditation a day or why not something like changing an regular session of exercise to simply forest bathing.
The more flexible you are in your mind, the better you will be able to cope and overcome negative triggers coming your way.
Hopefully, these avenues can assist you should you find yourself reeling from a trauma trigger.
Remember, that you are not alone in having them, as your feelings are real, raw and powerful. However, there are ways to control them and not let them take over. You can win these battles and the overall war, all you have to do is find the path to positivity, and in return, you will gain back your happiness.
(This article was written by an anonymous heartfelt contributor to TrueRelaxations)