Track and Respond to Triggers
breathe in for a count of...
hold for a count of ...
breathe out for a count of ...
hold for a count of...
Most nights around 5:30 PM, I start dinner; this is when I am most likely to be triggered; I feel the weight of the day upon me, overwhelm takes over, and without a built-in Pause, I frequently flail. I have noticed this also happens when we are off our regular routine. I am now aware that even on happy occasions like Mother's Day, when my schedule changes, I am vulnerable to be triggered. One tactic that has helped me enormously is knowing my triggers. I have done this by tracking my moods at the end of the day in what I call my Steady Joy Tracker (SJT). In the front part of my Steady Joy Tracker I have a list of Trigger Responders. If I am triggered, I literally open my SJT, read through the strategies, and apply one that will bring me back to Steady.
Now that I have been tracking for years, I see the patterns in my triggers and can anticipate most of them before I feel out of control.
My recent known triggers:
- Anything, other than pumping my own gas, that has to do with my car: oil change, service, new tires, getting an inspection sticker.
- Any school or social function if I am going alone: concert, conference, PTO, meeting, yoga.
- Preparing food in front of people, I am ok if we are cooking together, but I feel judged when I am doing it alone.
- The few hours before something I am hosting begins.
- Anytime I can hear my husband preparing food for himself, I feel like I am the one who should be doing it and he often asks me simple questions, but I feel judged.
- Driving when I do not know where I am going in traffic or big cities. I like to drive long distances on open roads.
- Most all types of speaking on the phone, except for with my sister, Jodi.
- When my children or someone I love is in pain; I am an empath and truly feel their pain. When my children whine and complain randomly, I literally feel my chest tightening and I cannot breathe.
When I am feeling Triggered or know I am about to, I first try to remove myself from the situation and partake in one of my Trigger Responders:
- Pause, walk, kitchen yoga.
- Go to the bathroom and wash my hands.
- Ask for what I need: space, help, a hug.
- Engage: play a game with Coleman, ask my children questions, call my sister, text Rachel or Carrie.
- Create: weathered and worthy drawing, doodle, t and t prep, which is cutting out pictures, or make a collage.
- Engage media: play Wordscapes on my phone, read, watch a show, browse the web.
- Chew gum, ice, suck on a cherry blow pop.
- Clean while listening to something.
I heart Spotify: things I listen to when triggered:
- Disney instrumental piano
- Glee songs
- Catholic Hymns
- Deva Premal
There is a fine line between distraction and avoidance. Sometimes my days look quite different than planned, I must shovel for hours because of a storm, someone is sick or needs extra attention because of school or work or just because of life! Sometimes Melly pays a visit and stays too long; I become uninspired and sluggish and want to binge watch Netflix or reread Dystopian YA trilogies. And sometimes I give in, or more accurately, I feel like I am suffocating and incapable of accessing my toolkit; I don’t engage, I function, doing the bare minimum as a parent, but enough that I pray my children don’t notice. Eventually, my mood and the moon will wane, I will Pause to catch my breath, be motivated to reach for a Steady Joy strategy in my toolkit, the momentum picks-up, and Melly finally lifts off. There is an eternal ebb and flow, fortunately now, my lifestyle steers me back to Steady.
How do you Track and Respond to Your Triggers?
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