Dealing with anxiety

Behind The Anxiety: How I Deal With Triggers

I want to talk about how I deal with triggers, because we’re all triggered by things especially this year it’s an election year, there’s been so much going on between COVID, the BLM movement like this year is crazy. 2020 has been freakin a lot. I know that there are so many triggers that can come up for all of us and I want to talk about how I actually deal with those.

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Identify the Truth Behind the Trigger 

It normally starts for me when there’s like a wave of emotion. Sometimes it’s sadness. Sometimes it’s anger. Sometimes it’s just this paralyzing feeling. Sometimes it feels like a panic attack and I can’t breathe. And once I identify that I like to try to take a minute to sit in the feeling, and see where it started at. Because once you’re triggered a lot of times you’re so in the moment of ew, you may not notice the specific thing that triggered you. 

I always like to try to figure out what it was specifically that triggered me and if it is a true story. What I mean by that is, obviously we assign meanings to things consciously and subconsciously and that’s just how humans work. 

For example, when I was visiting my family. I was sitting at the table and eating. My mom goes “Your bra strap is twisted,” and she went to fix it. That was fine. And she goes, “You really need to tighten it,” and she goes to start tightening my bra strap. 

I’m like, “Stop! Leave me alone,” and I felt so irritated for like a good 20 minutes after that. And I was thinking why is this irritating me so much? Why do I feel triggered?  Obviously t a smaller trigger than you know some of the other things I mentioned with what’s going on in 2020. And I was thinking, you know what it has nothing to do with her trying to fix my bra strap. I mean, I literally lived inside of her for nine months like if she if anybody can fix my bra strap it’s gonna be her. But I realized that the trigger there was I felt like she was picking at me. And it came from the feelings that I have that I’m always doing things the way she wouldn’t want me to do them. And that was it was basically a lot of uncovering that I had to do and obviously that’s through years of therapy, years of personal development and self work for me to identify that, but it was just funny to me that l was really really irritated. 

I was there with my family, who I hadn’t seen in months, and I was in really good spirits and then this one thing happened and like why did this set me off so bad?

Exercises

I think whenever I really really feel high anxiety, especially if I’m not sure what triggered it. It’s the breathing. Breathing is so key for me. And sometimes it’s literally just stopping and saying, “Okay. In and out, in and out,” and just allowing myself to breathe in the moment and letting the oxygen get to my brain and just have a moment to fill myself in my body, to allow myself to know that I am safe, that I am okay and just to breathe. 

Sometimes, and it’s really bad I will do the breathing, and this may sound uncomfortable, but I’ll put my head between my legs and like, just, just feel my body and compress my body a little bit. Another exercise that I do is stepping away. If I’m sitting at my desk and I feel really really anxious and really really stressed out. I know the default, a lot of times for that is to just push through it and to keep working. But a lot of times you really just need to stand up and step away. I’ll just walk in circles around my apartment for the duration of a song. And it kind of gets me out of my head, it gets me into my body. Then I can come back and just decide what the first thing I’m going to work on is.

Sometimes I need a little bit more than that And that’s when I’ll actually go on a real walk. I’ll put on my sneakers and head out and, you know, walk around the neighborhood and just really just chill out. Most of the time I am listening to music. Sometimes I’ll listen to a true crime podcast and the reason I like to do that is because I get really into the story. I’m focused on that and not the thing that’s stressing me out. 

Having People To Reach Out To

I’m a bit of an enigma. I am very much an open book but I also am only close to certain people. I was actually watching this training on trauma and something came up for me, and I was completely triggered by it, like upset to where I was crying. I reached out to someone that I work with and I was like, “Hey. I’m watching this thing. Honestly I’m so triggered right now.” Just having someone to hold that safe space for you. You don’t have to do it on your own, you don’t have to share your problems with everyone or anyone, but having someone that you feel like you can reach out to and then also really honoring yourself, and knowing your limits and your boundaries.

There are certain people who I love and I adore and I can talk to, have a good time with but there are certain things I won’t share with them. And by that I mean, I won’t talk to them about certain things that I know they don’t understand or that I know they can’t be receptive, or supportive in the way that I need them to be. It’s not that they don’t love me, it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that that’s just not their default. For example, one of my very best friends who I, I mean I wrote a blog post about the guy, he doesn’t have a lot of empathy, and he’s a great person he’s super caring and great, but I know sometimes that there are just certain things if I’m feeling a certain way or, I’m sad about something. I will talk to my other best friend because she’s going to be a little bit more receptive and supportive. He’s going to be more like, “That sucks,” or “Well then do something about it.”  I’m very much like complain and then take action but at that moment I need to be held. 

I know that he’s not always the best person to talk to. We’ve also been friends for almost 15 years, and there will be times where I want to talk to him about things and I’ll say, “Hey, I’m going to tell you this thing. I need for you to respond the way that I would respond.”  He knows this isn’t the time to make jokes. This isn’t the time to brush it off. 

It’s asking for what you want. So just find that circle of people that you can talk to. And if someone lets you down, feel comfortable saying this is what I need from you in these moments and what you gave me isn’t what I need. So I’m telling you what my expectations are and if they can’t meet those expectations, that’s fine. Just find someone who can, if you choose to talk to someone about whatever it is that triggered you.

Prevent It

Obviously, we can’t rid the world of triggers, but what we can do is not put ourselves in situations that we know are going to be triggering for us. There are certain places as a black female in the south that I do not like to go, and I don’t go because they trigger feelings of fear for me. And sometimes feelings of anger because of the way my community has been treated in those environments. So I try to prevent those situations from occurring and not putting myself in those situations.

The same way with clients, you know, if you have someone who’s constantly triggering you. When it comes time to in that relationship don’t renew it because the money or  I don’t want them to be mad that I don’t want to continue working with them. No you have to take care of your mental health and your well being. 

I also disengage with people, when they trigger me if it’s possible. And there are certain situations where obviously, like with my mom, I can’t and I have no desire to disengage with her, or with friends who you have mutual friends and you’re going to be around with them. You’re going to be around them regardless of if you decide to be super engaged with them and still be really good friends with them or not. And what that really looks like is just allowing yourself to not go deep with them anymore. I felt like a lot of people in 2020 have shown their true colors. And it’s hard when those people are in your circle, because you obviously don’t want to stop hanging out with every one because one person has issues or has thoughts that you don’t agree with, or that feel hurtful to you. So just not engaging with that person on the level that you were previously in protecting your energy, protecting yourself and protecting your space is really the best way to do it so maybe you only talk to them when it’s in a group setting. You don’t randomly text them anymore. Whatever it may be, just really protecting yourself and disengaging when you can. 

This was very much an off the cuff episode and I just wanted to share that with you because I know that triggering situations are just like they feel so consistent right now, but there are ways that we can manage them and help. Also…. obviously therapy. Hello, big big big big fan of therapy. There’s also like support lines if the triggers are too strong. It’s like there’s so much help out there and I really want you guys to take care of yourselves. I know we are in heavy times and I know that things feel unpredictable and sometimes like we don’t have a lot of control but we do have so much control. I love you guys.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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