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We most often think of triggers as being external to us. Many different forms of media, in the truest definition, provide trigger warnings to let people know that something external could trigger them in some way. The experiences are specific and general at the same time. Common traumatic events being displayed in the media could be triggering in different ways to a variety of different people. External triggers, as these triggers might be called, are just one form of trigger. Most often, external triggers include:

Witnessing live action portrayals that is reminiscent of a traumatic eventHearing a story that is reminiscent of a traumatic eventSensory activation reminiscent of the traumatic event: smells, sights, sounds, tastes, or physical sensationsChronological triggers like anniversaries, holidays, months, or celebrationsPersonality traits in other people that might be reminiscent of someone involved in a traumatic event

Triggers are not always external. Internal triggers happen to people every day and are less obvious than external triggers. Feelings, thoughts, emotions, and ideas can all be very triggering when they are uncomfortable and happening without understanding. Perfectly logical triggers and experiences due to everyday life can also feel triggering. A sudden memory, a fleeting feeling, internal physical sensations like getting nervous, certain voices and thoughts in the mind- all of these can suddenly spark symptoms of PTSD.

Without understanding what triggers are and which triggers are personal, it is easy for people to turn to self-defeating and harmful behaviors to cope. Wanting to escape the feeling as soon as possible, people turn to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm, and other behaviors of coping. Even years into recovery, triggers can be disruptive and disturbing.

Learning how to cope with triggers will best help you work through the triggers when they occur. First, it is important to practice grounding techniques in order to reconnect yourself to the present moment. Triggers activate various response systems in your body and your mind that can cause feelings of dissociation. Grounding practices bring you into the immediacy of the present moment helping you recognize that you are not your thoughts and you are not your past. Once you are able to discern what is real and what is not real, you can start reminding yourself of the truths of your life. Something traumatic happened to you. You are coping. Something in your life just triggered you. You are coping with that. You are present and you are safe. Gaining that awareness, you can mindfully notice other sensations of the present and make a decision to take action. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Dive into self-care as immediately as possible by drinking some water, eating a snack, or doing something else to take care of yourself in the way that you need.

You can live with trauma in a peaceful way. The Guest House Ocala is a residential trauma treatment program, providing concierge style care for recovery from traumas, addictions, and related issues. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800