Do you suddenly experience a negative emotional reaction to stress – for instance, from something you saw on the news, or in real life?
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how to manage our emotions when faced with ‘triggers’.
In everyday conversations, the term ‘triggered’ gets thrown around quite frequently; it’s a fashionable way of expressing discomfort or disdain as a reaction to something. But in reality, it’s a far more serious term.
According to a March 2022 report in the US-based psychology news website Psychology Today, triggers are often connected to trauma, and are usually brought on by symptoms related to mental health, such as anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They can also be related to trauma associated with oppression, like prejudice, hate crimes and abuse. Some of the effects of the trauma someone might experience include fear, hypervigilance, depression, anger, loneliness, and feelings of shame or guilt.
If you’ve been having trouble facing the world’s stressors without being overwhelmed by your emotional reaction, here are a few ways to empower yourself, according to the Psychology Today report:
1. Enforce limits
Remind yourself that it is acceptable to take a break. If your work has many trigger points for you, for instance, set a time limit that seems reasonable to you – it could be minutes or even days off – and then step away to regain some balance.
2. Create a mental barrier
If you find yourself in the middle of a distressing event, create a mental barrier both internally and externally. Internally, you can do so by imagining a brick wall in your mind, distancing you from what’s happening around you. Externally, you can choose to temporarily ignore individuals or sources that are causing the stress, until you are ready to deal with it.
3. Engage in purposeful participation
It can be easy to feel hopeless when you’re in a negative place in your mind. One the ways to combat this helpless feeling is to give back to society as often as you can. Whether it’s by volunteering or helping a friend who has been struggling, find your purpose in your community and you’ll find a way to feel empowered again.
4. Widen your focus
Don’t get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts – they usually tend to narrow our focus and intensify the pain we’re feeling. Instead, widen your focus and think of healthy comparisons, so that you are able to see the bigger picture. For instance, you could think about others in similar situations who are coping, as well, and feel that you are not alone. You can also acknowledge the silver linings in your day – all the things that went well – before you fall asleep, to regain a sense of calm and peace.