Managing triggers for mental health can be challenging, especially when circumstances prevent us from avoiding them entirely. When you’re confronted with a situation that evokes negative emotions or memories what can you do?
I think first it’s important to recognize what might be a trigger. Some things might be easy to identify already such as a person you know, or you might know that a particular place might provoke unwanted memories. By identifying specific triggers, you can be better prepared to cope with their effects.
Let me give you a personal example: Because of a series of consecutive traumas, there were places that would ignite an awful stress response. A couple of these places were unavoidable and for quite some time I was really challenged. Over time, I realized I had to make a choice not to focus on the memory. I had to choose to change my thoughts and shift my focus. With practice it became much easier. I also worked with a therapist and an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner. Now, these triggers are resolved.
Another example, I know someone who is difficult to deal with. Since I know I must interact occasionally, I have practiced changing my thoughts about them. I have more compassion and I also learned to not take it personally.
There might be times, though, when we’re not prepared for some specific trigger. Sometimes calling a friend or talking with your therapist is the best way to work through it. Something I have found to be very helpful is to breathe slowly in and out, focusing on just breathing.
It might not always be easy, but with practicing shifting your focus, self-talk, breathing, and getting support you can learn to be less reactive. Be gentle with yourself. You deserve that!