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It is important to know what your triggers are, understand why you are experiencing these triggers, and identify the best way for you to cope with them

By: Maranda Carlson

*Trigger Warning*

If you scroll through social media as much as I do, odds are you’ve seen posts are labeled with the words “trigger warning.” Trigger disclosures are displayed at the beginning of a social media post, a blog, a video, etc. alerting the viewer that the content contains potentially stressful material to some consumers.

What is a trigger?

A trigger is anything that sparks an intense emotional reaction within someone. This could include (but is not limited to) flashbacks of memories, experiences, events, certain people, uncomfortable topics, another person’s words or actions, or even your own behaviors.

How do I know if I have a trigger?

When you are exploring various media, have you seen something that ignited on a strong emotional response? This intense response is referred to as an emotional trigger. When you become triggered, you may feel hurt, angry, scared, or, in some extreme cases, it may cause an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack may cause your heart to pound, your stomach to turn into knots, shakiness, dizziness, or sweaty palms. When one or more of these reactions happen, pay close mind to your surroundings in order to pinpoint what may be causing that response.

What should I do if I have an emotional trigger?

Avoiding triggers is hard, so it is important to learn ways to cope with triggers in a healthy way. Some coping strategies are:

Mindfulness– People who practice mindfulness tend to be happier according to a recent study. Mindfulness helps you to stay in the present moment without feelings of judgment.

Deep breathing – This is my favorite way to cope when I am having an emotional trigger. Slowing down, stopping what I’m doing, and just taking deep breaths helps me get back into the moment and calm my nerves.

Expressive writing– If you are a creative person who likes to write, writing down your feelings in a journal is a great way for you to narrow down your feelings and understand what may have harnessed each emotional experience. This can help you learn about triggers that you might not have been aware of.

Grounding– Grounding is a more in-depth coping skill, since there are many ways to do this, but grounding usually takes into account your surroundings by identifying your senses: sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight.

Social support– Having a positive social support system, people who talk positively about you and help build you up, is important for one’s well-being and is believed to positively impact your health and guard you against distress.

Meditation– You’ve heard of meditation, but do you know what it is, or how helpful it can be? Meditation is deemed a form of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind to help you center yourself.

It is important to know what your triggers are, understand why you are experiencing these triggers, and identify the best way for you to cope with them. If you are having trouble doing this on your own, ask your therapist for help. They will be equipped to help you sort through your feelings and find ways to cope. If you don’t currently have a therapist, seek one out, and remember, Mindful Healing Works Wellness Center is always here to help you find the right therapist.