The Trigger Experience
Every time you go through a triggering experiences you may feel symptoms of rapid heartbeat, like your heart is going to beat out of your chest, sweating in every part of your body, cold hands, and feet but hot body core, unusual smells for no reason, tightening of your throat, dry mouth and unable to say anything, physically frozen (unable to move) and unable to do anything, feeling dissociated, constricted visual field, quick onset of fear or terror for no apparent reason, emotional numbness, confusion, loss of the ability to focus, loss of the ability to concentrate, consciousness in and out, intense anxiety as though something is going to happen, hypervigilant, hyper responsive, hyper emotional and hypersensitive as well as a rapid onset of irritability it may not be what you think is happening to you. The experience is not a panic attack.
Instead look the trigger as a clue of a forthcoming flashback or better known as a subconscious trigger response.
If you are honest with yourself and review all the reactions mentioned above, you will see that you are indeed experiencing a subconscious trigger response to a flashback rather than going through a panic attack. As a client said after reporting experiencing all those symptoms as mentioned, stated "my past is still alive and part of me. Everything triggers me after all these years."
Unfortunately the diagnosis of a "panic attack" seems to have become a knee-jerk catch-all diagnosis made by many professionals who are unaccustomed to the impact of Post-traumatic Stress symptoms and how PTSD mirrors many other diagnoses.
Definition of Trigger
A trigger is anything that arouses your senses and sets off mental, emotional, or behavioral cues and activates memories of past hurtful, painful abusive or traumatic situation. Triggers a particular to situations you have experienced.
Triggers are connections between your conscious mind and the specific memories you have stored that have not been processed. Triggers revert you back to the emotions, behaviors, thoughts, physical sensations and reactions causing you to experience the memory the triggers are connected to and make you feel as though the experience is happening all over again.
Types of Triggers
Triggers set off a recollection of memory or flashback which transports you back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people.
A trigger can be a:
Seeing something on TV
Methods for Coping with Triggers
Now, the best way of coping with triggers is to avoid them altogether. However, this is almost impossible to do. Why? Well, you cannot really prevent your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Much of these are out of our control. Regarding external triggers, we can take some steps to manage our environment (for example, not going to certain places that we know will trigger us), but we cannot control everything that happens to us. For example, you might inadvertently come into contact with a news story or conversation that reminds you of your traumatic event.
Because we often cannot avoid triggers, it is important to learn ways of coping with triggers. Useful, and healthy coping strategies for lessening the impact of triggers include:
Identify and monitor triggers by making a list
Increase positive emotions through positive activities
Muscle relaxation techniques
Quick Tips Solutions
Sometimes triggers are outside of your control and impossible to avoid. When that happens, though, there are some things that you can do to lessen the anxiety, disappointing, over-expecting, and negative thoughts and reactions that follow.
7 Tips to Calm Emotional Triggers
Some tips which may work for you are to reduce the effect of a trigger:
Making yourself aware of where you are, in the present moment, and knowing that in that moment you are alright and can work to alleviate the anxiety and fear that has been triggered.
You’re so busy focusing on daily situations that you forget to enjoy what is happening right now as they come. You sometimes become trapped in the confines of the day-to-day activities which cause you forget to be grateful for the beauty of life and the little things.
Being more mindful helps remind you that all good things come with time. It helped me escape the pressures of my job and embrace my writing without allowing it to consume my life, and it helped remind me to enjoy life again by tapping into the power and enjoyment of the present moment.
Using your recovery support system:
Talking to someone who understands your PTSD and is supportive of your recovery, is a way to let go of the effects of being triggered.
Be authentic and honest with yourself:
Be open with yourself and tell yourself the truth. Identifying the feeling you are having and what is causing them in the moment. Remind yourself you are safe now and not back in the situation as your traumatic event. Becoming aware of your fear and anxiety. Be mindful to know what is real in the moment and what is not so you will react appropriately. Positive self-talk or journaling when you’re triggered by unknown feelings, thoughts or situations can be extremely helpful dealing with triggered memories or flashbacks.
Remind yourself you’re not your triggers:
Whenever a trigger surfaces in your mind, merely identify it as a “trigger” and move on. You’re not your past or the adverse events you experienced. You’re separate from your triggers, and they’re different from you, so you do not have to respond or react to them.
Go for a nature walk:
Go for a walk and blend into the environment around you. Listen to the sounds, notice the colors of the trees, and bushes as well as the smell of the essence of nature. Nature will reduce the influence and impact of the triggers naturally.
Take a warm bath.
Baths can help you reduce your focus and put you in the moment by allowing you to sense the warmth and sensation of the water. It will take your mind off of the trigger that has surfaced, and a bath can help disconnect from your past, allow your worries fade away into the heat of the water.
Using intuitive methods:
Intuitive methods of connecting with your gut use your senses to get yourself back in the present moment through intuitive breathing and intuitive thinking. Use your innate senses to hold a unique object, listen to music you like, smell or taste something with a strong scent or taste, take notice of your environment, count your blessings or hug another to bring yourself back into the moment.
Being mindful and intuitive doesn’t have to consume all your time. You can efficiently use any of these techniques above throughout the day to decrease the impact of your triggers. These tips can also reduce your anxiety and calm your mind. Connect with the moment, and the connection will free you from your recollections of the past.
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