Learning to Cope With Trauma Triggers

coping with trauma triggers

In recent years, “triggered” has become somewhat of a catch-all buzzword to describe anything that makes people upset. But if you are a trauma survivor, you know that triggers can be overwhelming, unpredictable and cause you to restrict your life in hopes of avoiding them.

What Are Trauma Triggers?

Trauma triggers can be anything that reminds you of what you went through, which might include a scent, sound or location. When you encounter a trigger, memories of the trauma suddenly come rushing back, forcing you to relive the event.

Triggers can make you feel helpless and unsafe. You could be wary of going places for fear of encountering anything that might cause intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. The memory of the traumatic event places you right back into the experience, which causes your natural fight-or-flight response to kick into overdrive in response. Afterward, it can take a long time to return to your baseline and feel grounded and calm again.

While it’s not always the case, trauma and addiction often co-occur. Many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to feel “normal” and cope with the pain and heartache caused by their traumatic experiences. Ultimately, substance abuse is not a healthy outlet for your problems, and running from your trauma will only make your problems worse in the long run.

How to Recover From Trauma

Healing from trauma is challenging and takes time. While you may feel more comfortable trying to pretend it away, it is healthier to identify your triggers and proactively learn how to manage them. When you encounter a trauma trigger, write down everything you can remember about your surroundings and how you felt in the moment, including any side effects like shaking, sweating and dizziness. Then, you can begin connecting the dots and finding similar patterns.

If a trigger leaves you feeling emotionally flooded, try following these steps to self-soothe and balance your nervous system.

  1. Remind yourself that the traumatic event is in the past, not happening to you in the here and now.
  2. Control your breathing to calm your mind and slow your heart rate.
  3. Manage the trigger with grounding exercises. For example, name five things you can see around you.

Gender-Specific Treatment for Mental Illness and Addiction

Many women who would benefit from talking to someone about their mental health challenges never receive the help they need. Learning coping skills from a qualified therapist can teach you how to manage your trauma triggers and lead a fuller, richer life with less fear.

Rising Roads Recovery is an entirely woman-owned business that helps women struggling with mental and behavioral health issues. We provide a step-down level of care that offers our clients more freedom to live life on their terms. While at our center, women can feel free to talk about their experiences and emotions in a judgment-free setting, while discovering their authentic selves. To learn more about how we can help you, please reach out to us today.

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