What a triggers list is and why you should have one.
During this article, I speak from experience on how I have used a triggers list to help me monitor my depression and anxiety and stay well. A trigger is an event, word, person, situation or external circumstance which produces an uncomfortable response in you. It often feels like an uncontrolled reaction. Let's start at the beginning before I knew what a trigger was. The day I realised I hated myself was a revelation to me. I remember it so clearly. I was sat in my childhood bedroom at my parent's house and I thought, "Wow, you really hate yourself don't you". Depression has a funny way of creeping up on you and taking away your basic self care and love for yourself. I was in the midst of my breakdown, I wasn't getting out of bed most days, but I always had a glimmer of hope, my tenacious attitude, alongside the need and desire to get better. I remember that day, like it was yesterday. It was such a confession for me. It was one of those "ah ha" moments, suddenly so many things made so much sense. This is why I let people treat me like sh*t, I thought. This is why I berate myself and never give myself a moments peace because I hate myself. I really hate myself. That's why I never stand up for myself. That's why I eat and eat and eat until my stomach hurts, even when I know I am full. That's why I purposefully stay up watching crap on TV even when my body is screaming at me to go to sleep. I'm punishing myself. In little ways, I am digging at myself as I feel like I deserve to be punished and hated. WOW! The day after this revelation was the day I started working with affirmations. I had watched the Louise Hay documentary, You can heal your life, a few days before and remembered some of the ones she had said. I remember her saying something along the lines of.... "be kind to yourself, love yourself, it's easy, it's only a thought you have to change and you can do it! It's like cleaning a house, it doesn't matter what room you start in, if you keep going eventually your whole house will be clean." From somewhere inside I realised in order to beat my depression and get out of bed I had to learn to love myself and in order to heal, I had to be nice to myself in the process. So that's what I did. I started writing and reciting affirmations daily. I wrote them out and stuck them everywhere. I always worked to the same 4 point plan to write them (message me for a free copy of my 4 Ps of affirmation writing). Yes, but what had this all got to do with triggers I hear you ask... Well, I'm still healing and learning, it's a daily choice to get better and stay well. I'd say I'm 98% well now. I manage my depression and anxiety by checking in with myself and being aware of my triggers. Think about all those small choices you make each day that are towards or away from self-care, they add up. Honestly, they add up. That decision to not go to yoga, I'll meditate tomorrow. I'll snooze, just. One. More. Time. Recognising, understanding and freeing yourself from your triggers will help you heal faster and hopefully stay well long term. So how did I recognise my triggers and create my triggers list? First things first you need to start becoming aware of your feelings and behaviour. No more projecting your stuff onto others, you have to take responsibility for yourself. This can be hard when you've been hiding from yourself for years like I did. I started to keep a diary. In the diary, I would note down situations, people, and circumstances that made me feel low. If I couldn't get out of bed one day I'd think about why and note down things like the type of food I'd had, how much sleep I'd been getting and who I'd been hanging out with. I'd note down how I felt when I spent time in certain places and with certain people. You're soon able to get quite a clear of the things, people, situations, places etc... That make you feel good and the ones which trigger negative reactions and emotions. Now for the hard bit... You have to start to filter out all the things which trigger you and/ or learn to respond in a different way. I would recommend you start small, work with your cycles, nothing in nature blooms all year long, so you are entitled to your low points too. I have learned to keep my low points to a minimum, my social anxiety is all but a distant memory now because I keep myself in check and I love and nurture myself daily. In my opinion, it helps to learn your triggers and have a checklist you follow if things are getting out of balance. Heres my triggers list:
What You'll Need
- Pen and paper
What You'll Do
- Learn about your triggers (things that may make your depression worse)
- Understand what you need to do to find out what your triggers are
- Have I been getting enough sleep? (I aim for at least 8 hrs a night and to be asleep before midnight)
- Have I been consuming too much alcohol? (only you will know your limits on this, I fluctuate between sobriety and have a few nights out)
- What have I been eating? (High sugar, cheap and low nutritional food have a major effect on my mental health)
- How much exercise have I been doing? (From yoga, to skipping or kettlebells, those endorphins and making a choice to look after your body really helps)
- When was the last time I went outside? (Sometimes I realise I haven't left the house for a day or two - working for yourself writing or recording content at home and before you know it... bam two days have gone lol! - if I realise this I always go for a nice long walk in nature either to the park or along the canal.)
- How much time have I been spending on my phone comparing myself to others? (Major trigger alert! I try not to spend too much time scrolling and comparing)
- Have I been saying yes to things I don't want to do?
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