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how to manage your triggers

Healthy Coping Skills To Manage Your Triggers

Emotional triggers are complex and you may not have control over them. When you are feeling triggered, it’s important to learn healthy coping skills to manage your emotions. If you don’t have a healthy way of coping with an emotional trigger, then the symptoms can build up until they feel overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to use coping skills as soon as you notice your negative emotions rising.

Everyone reacts differently to triggers depending on our past experiences and the way we’ve learned to deal with them. This article will discuss common emotional triggers and ways you can learn to manage your reactions so that you’re in control instead of being pulled by your emotions.

What Is An Emotional Trigger?

An emotional trigger is defined as something that causes you distress. Emotional reactions to triggers can look like the following:

  • Crying,
  • Unexplained anger,
  • Anxiety,
  • Panic attacks,
  • Physical symptoms, and more.

Determining the root cause of a trigger allows you to develop coping skills for managing emotional triggers. Coping skills can be broken down into three categories: managing your environment, managing your emotions and thoughts, and managing your behaviour.

How Can I Identify My Triggers?

Your emotional triggers are the things that trigger a strong emotional response in you. Each person has different triggers, which can include a situation, a thought, a feeling, or an object. It is important to recognize your emotional triggers so that you have better control over your responses to certain events, thoughts, or people. To find out what triggers your emotions, look for patterns in your emotional responses to situations. When you see a pattern emerge, try to determine what is triggering those emotional responses.

Why Am I So Easily Triggered?

Triggers are often difficult to avoid. Every person coping with a psychological condition, such as anxiety or depression, experiences triggers differently. People who have experienced post-traumatic stress may notice a familiar feeling when they see a movie that reminds them of their trauma. Some people who have been traumatized have flashbacks after hearing tones or sounds reminiscent of their trauma.

When things happen or when a person comes in contact with something that reminds them of the experience, they can sometimes feel like another episode is happening again. They may have sensations similar to what they might have experienced at the time of exposure to the initial event. What they remember affects how they feel—something they hear, perhaps, in a particular tone of voice; something they see which triggers an image in their mind; or a similarity to the original experience.

How Can I Manage My Triggers?

Trigger management is closely related to self-awareness, where one truly thinks about their feelings and emotions. We may be more prone to react to trigger management, due to feeling a wide range of intense emotions, which are generally negative. There are two ways we can deal with triggers: We can run from them or we can face them. Unfortunately, running from them does not make us feel better. The best tactic is to face our trigger management and acknowledge what’s going on in our mind and body.

Listed below are some helpful steps to take when it comes to managing your triggers:

  • Practice mindfulness;
  • Step back and think;
  • Determine the cause of intense emotions;
  • Ask yourself questions;
  • Acknowledge your feelings;
  • Give yourself some time and space; and
  • Stay open-minded.

Being aware of ‘triggers’ is an effective first step in managing triggers. In the long run, though, you will have to practice new habits and find ways to cope with these aspects of your life that trigger negative emotions. Don’t expect to ‘fix’ your life overnight; you might have to work on building resilience for some time before you see positive results.


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We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.