Identifying Your Triggers

Living with bipolar disorder and anxiety, identifying my triggers is crucial in managing my mental health conditions. For me, knowing what triggers certain emotions or even full blown episodes has allowed me to act sooner in controlling the potential outcomes. Before beginning this blog post, I sat down and wrote out a few of my triggers. Emotional triggers arise when something or someone sets off a flashback which causes an individual to relive the traumatic experience. The first step in managing your triggers is identifying and accepting them. The following is a list of things you can do/ask yourself when seeking to identify your triggers.

* I am not a professional and any information contained in this blog post is what I found helpful.

Identifying Your Emotional Triggers

  1. Recall a time when you felt triggered by something. What caused it to arise? When and where were you when this occurred?
  2. When feeling triggered, make note of the situation and how you feel in the moment. Identify and write down emotions. This will help you recognize when you’re having an emotional reaction. If you’re having trouble describing what you’re feeling here’s a link to a list of feelings. Feeling Word List
  3. Who’s around during this time?
  4. What happened once you were triggered?

Identifying and managing your triggers doesn’t mean you have to stop feeling your emotions. It just means you know what the cause is and you can now find another way to react in that moment.

I also wanted to share a few of my triggers and how I’m learning to cope in these moments.

  • Being in large crowds/groups. (Anxiety)
  • Stressful or fast paced work environments (Anxiety)
  • Lack of sleep and getting off schedule
  • Arguing/fights (Fear)
  • Being wrong (Ex: Being called on in class to answer a question and getting it wrong.)
  • Being rejected (Feeling like I’m not good enough)
  • Being ignored (Feeling abandoned)
  • Breakups (Feeling unwanted or like I’m not good enough)
  • Being grabbed tightly or unwanted touch (Takes me back to past abuse)

As you can see, things others may deem as “little” set off gut-wrenching emotions within me. What I’m in the process of learning is what to do once I’ve been triggered. The painful memories are already embedded in me so how do I learn to cope with them?
Learning your triggers and coping with them will look different for everyone. In my experience these things have helped:

  • Sharing triggers with someone I trust
  • Positive self-talk (Keep a list of notes handy that are specifically for moments when you’re triggered
  • Distract yourself: reading, walking, watching videos, etc.
  • Remember to breathe!

I hope anyone who reads this takes away something, whether it be a method for identifying triggers or a way of coping.

Enjoy your weekend!

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