Combat Your Triggers by Gently Leaning into Them
Through some work, some play, and some intentional exercises, you can find relief from what upsets you most. Here’s how.
PTSD is a lot more common than we think. We used to think post-traumatic stress was limited to soldiers, natural disaster survivors, and people who survived sexual assault. But more studies than ever show the long-term effects of trauma that happened to us when we were kids, which could include:
- the death or attempted suicide of a family member
- a family member who is mentally ill or addicted to a substance or behavior
- physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (from severe to minimal)
- witnessing or enduring violence in your community
- neglect (such as being a “parentified” child)
- divorce, incarceration, hospitalization, or other separation from parent figures
These same studies show not only the enduring emotional and behavioral challenges caused by trauma, but also the physical ones. If you experienced four or more of the above, for example, you are up to six times more likely to be clinical depressed and/or have a substance abuse disorder, and/or develop diabetes, cancer, heart and lung problems.
What do triggers have to do with it?
Whether the trauma you endured was recent or far back in the past, your body remembers it.
Maybe you shrink back from the smell of a certain cologne because it reminds you of a man who hurt you.
Maybe you avoid a room in your childhood home or a park in your neighborhood, because you don’t want to think about what happened there.
Maybe you forget basic words, or have moments when the world is drained of color. Or you get so lost in a daydream you can’t remember where you are for a moment, as if you’re floating above yourself or watching yourself in a movie. Maybe you find yourself doing this more and more, either involuntarily, or as a way to get relief from things you don’t to be bothered by.