Knowing and Managing My Mental Health Triggers
If you’ve been to any kind of mental health treatment, triggers are an oft talked about problem. Here, triggers are normally defined as instances which cause physical or mental disruption, kicking off increases in mental health problems. Depending on your mental health problems a trigger could be a person or thing that reminds you of trauma, resulting in flashbacks, it could be as simple as a messy house where you can’t concentrate, or even being too tired to function.
Triggers often vary for everyone, and no two people will experience a trigger in exactly the same way. For that reason, knowing your personal triggers and learning how to manage them in a way that works for you is crucial to being able to take care of yourself. Often, that starts with honest introspection and self-evaluation.
Mapping Your Triggers
Taking the time to understand what triggers your mental health episodes is the first step to taking steps to improve how you respond. Often, that should mean keeping emotional journals, checking in periodically throughout the day to write how you are feeling, what is happening around you, and things about self-care, like whether you’ve eaten, drank water, or had alcohol. Adding extra notes when you suddenly feel bad, experience flashbacks, or otherwise have problems will help you to create a map of how and when mental health incidents occur.
For example, if you can review your days and see that you have dips in mood around a certain time, you can link to what you’re doing then. Most people have triggers around emotions, people, events, and things. For example, traffic, feeling tired, someone yelling, etc.
Once you figure out what instances trigger you to feel bad, even if those instances are things like “I feel disappointed in myself because I didn’t do X”, you can start to take steps to correct those instances or to mitigate them.
Figuring Out Coping Mechanisms
Coping mechanisms should be diverse, should fit into different aspects of your life, and should allow you to cope with things even if you don’t have energy. Sometimes, that’s an impossible order. However, in most cases, they fall into three primary types:
Long-Term – Long-term solutions help you to build physical and mental wellbeing so that you are in a better condition to take on big obstacles. Much like you might train to run a marathon rather than jumping right in, building long-term solutions will help you to be physically or mentally fit for coping with triggers. These include things like taking 15 minutes a day to clean your house, improving your nutrition, practicing mindfulness, taking a walk a day, etc. They’re about improving your overall life experience every single day, so that your overall mental health benefits.
Immediate Response – You’ll also want coping mechanisms that help you immediately respond to a problem. Sometimes, those responses can be to fix the issue. E.g., if you’re easily triggered by things going wrong, learning how to start fixing issues can do a great deal for you. However, these kinds of responses are very often about responding to panic and anxiety, ending negative and downward thought spirals, and helping yourself back onto a right track. Normally, that includes distraction, reassurance, and resolution. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, having a mantra or the option to take a few minutes to mediate might help. If you’re able to take time out to do something else with your hands. If you’re triggered by being hungry or drops in blood sugar, you might even have something as simple as keeping dextrose or granola bars on your person. For some people, playing a song or listening to a podcast will work, for others, not so much. Everyone is different and you’ll have to find a coping solution that works for you.
Comfort – It’s important that you, on average, have the option to make yourself feel better. For many people that will include something like a shower, getting a hug from someone you care about, taking time out to meditate or to light candles, etc. Comfort should be about finding things you enjoy and doing them. But, it’s important that you don’t let this go too far. For example, self-soothing or self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can lead to addiction. If you come to rely on being able to get comfort from one person or thing, not having it there could trigger mental health problems. The idea is that you be able to feel better from a diverse range of activities and people, so you can thrive wherever you are.
Building Support Networks
Often, we don’t notice our mental health changing until it’s too late to react to it. If you’re caught up in your own head, a downward spiral can feel more like a gentle downward slope and before you know it, you’ve dropped your coping mechanisms, stopped cleaning your home, and are in the middle of a major episode.
Everyone needs someone and if you have mental health problems, that’s more so. Having support networks means having people to talk to, being able to check in and talk about your mental health and having people who will help you get back on track if you start to slip. Of course, none of your friends or family are obligated to provide this sort of support for you. They are first, and foremost, responsible for themselves and their own mental wellbeing. But, simply having a network of good friends around you, who will talk to you and who will share about how they feel will do a great deal towards ensuring you have this kind of support and network in place.
Managing a mental health disorder isn’t always possible on your own. It also shouldn’t be necessary. If you’re struggling, mental health treatment in the form of behavioral therapy can do a great deal for helping you to build the behaviors and coping mechanisms that allow you to deal with triggers, to move past them, and to thrive despite your mental health problem.
If you or you loved one need help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to ask about our mental health programs and how we can support your specific requirements as you move into treatment.