What is a trigger? A trigger is something that when released on a gun, allows it to fire. A trigger is also used to describe something that “fires” a physical or emotional response to an event in the past. Triggers are social, environmental or emotional experiences that remind someone in recovery (or in general!) of their past.
A Few Tips to Avoid Triggers
The title of this blog post is misleading because unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to “avoid” triggers in daily life but there are many ways we can deal with them. Although we can take ourselves out of situations that might trigger us specifically, sometimes these feelings and reactions will come up. It’s important to know how to handle them so there aren’t any major setbacks with your progress and growth.
- Take control. It’s important to accept responsibility. You are in control! Take power into your own hands instead of viewing yourself as a victim. You have the power to feel differently if you want to. You are in control. Remind yourself that you are in the here and now and you are stronger than your thoughts or feelings.
- Recognize your feelings. Why are you feeling this way? What made you feel this way. The brain is such a powerful thing that emotional reminders or triggers can elicit a physical response from our body. Shortness of breath, heart racing, sweating or dizziness can happen, all powered from our brain. Just as the brain is powerful enough to cause these reactions, it’s powerful enough to shift our thinking and control it as well.
- Choose what to do next. In recovery, there can be triggers that cause us to have withdrawals or put us back in a place where we feel vulnerable enough to jeopardize our success. Remind yourself of your progress and figure out a plan on how to diffuse the situation. Physically removing yourself from a group of friends or an environment that triggers you might be a necessity. It hurts to leave our life and friends behind, but you need to put yourself first and you should try your best to avoid potential triggers that you CAN avoid.
What Can You do to Prevent a Trigger?
Psychology Today gave the following advice to people dealing with triggers in the moment they are occurring. “Stop trying to manage your emotions. Instead, choose to feel something different when an emotion arises. This is how you gain emotional freedom.”
- Relax- Breathe. Focus on your breathing.
- Detach- clear your mind of all thoughts.
- Center- Mentally center your thoughts under your belly button. If you’re focusing on “centering” yourself, you’re not thinking about other things.
- Focus- choose something to focus on. Find a feeling you’d like to feel instead of this trigger. Happiness, love, strength, growth, progress are all good words to focus on.
Shift your mind and do the best you can to live your cleanest, best life. Remove yourself from situations that hinder your progress and cut yourself some slack. People experience triggers all the time, it’s how they deal with them that defines them.
By: Erica T.