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Little Steps toUnderstanding and Managing Emotional Triggers

By Jules Allan

Hi I’m Jules, each month I will be exploring and looking at various mental health and wellbeing topics, sharing with you simple Therapeutic and Wellbeing Tools.

This month we are looking at Emotional Triggers. What are they?

Have you ever experienced a sudden and intense emotional reaction to a situation or person? If so, you might have come across what is known as an emotional trigger.

An emotional trigger is something that causes an immediate and often intense emotional response. These triggers can be positive or negative, and they can vary from person to person. It can be a situation, a person, a place, or even a memory that brings up intense feelings like anger, sadness, or anxiety. These triggers can be positive, such as feeling joy when spending time with loved ones, or negative, such as feeling anger when someone cuts us off in traffic.

Emotional triggers are normal, and everyone experiences them from time to time. However, when these triggers become too overwhelming or frequent, they can negatively impact our mental and physical health.

Therefore, it is important to identify our emotional triggers and learn ways to manage them effectively. By doing so, we can improve our overall well-being and avoid unnecessary stress.

Have you ever found yourself feeling anxious or stressed out after scrolling through social media?

That's because social media can be a significant emotional trigger for many of us.

Constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we're not measuring up can take a toll on our mental health. It is essential to recognize when social media is becoming a trigger and take steps to manage it.

One way to manage this emotional trigger is by setting boundaries. You could try limiting your social media use or unfollow accounts that make you feel negative or anxious.

Remember, social media is just a highlight reel, and everyone has their own struggles and insecurities. So, let's focus on our own journey and celebrate our unique strengths and accomplishments!

Have you ever felt triggered by social media? How did it make you feel? What helped you to handle it?

Identifying Emotional Triggers

The first step in managing emotional triggers is identifying them. Sometimes triggers are obvious, but other times, they may be more subtle or buried deep within our subconscious.

Another approach is to pay attention to your body's physical reactions. Do you clench your fists, feel a knot in your stomach, or start sweating when faced with certain situations or people? These physical symptoms can be clues to your emotional triggers.

One way to identify your emotional triggers is to keep a journal. Whenever you experience a strong emotional response, take a few minutes to reflect on what caused it. Write down the situation, the people involved, and how you felt. Over time, patterns may emerge that will help you identify your triggers.

Managing Emotional Triggers

Once you've identified your emotional triggers, there are several strategies you could try to manage them.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. When you're mindful, you're aware of your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.

One way to practice mindfulness is to focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths and pay attention to the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.

Reframe Your Thoughts

Negative self-talk can be a significant emotional trigger. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, try reframing them into something positive. For example, instead of thinking, "I'm never going to be good enough," you could try and see what happens if you reframe it to, "I'm doing the best I can, and that's enough."

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for managing emotional triggers. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Also, take time to do things you enjoy, such as reading a book or taking a walk.

Seek Support

Talking to a friend, family member, coach or therapist can be helpful in managing emotional triggers. Having someone to listen and offer support can make a significant difference.

Managing emotional triggers is an ongoing process, and it can take time and effort to develop effective strategies. By identifying your triggers and practicing mindfulness, reframing your thoughts, practicing self-care, and seeking support, they may help you to manage your emotional responses and improve your overall well-being.

Alcohol as a Crutch for Emotional Triggers

Alcohol can often be used as a crutch for emotional triggers for many reasons. It can help to numb feelings of anxiety or sadness, provide a temporary escape from stress or trauma, or enhance feelings of social connection or pleasure. However, relying on alcohol as a crutch can be dangerous and damaging in the long-term. It can lead to over dependence, addiction, and a range of physical and mental health problems, including liver damage, depression, and anxiety.

Breaking the Cycle

Breaking the cycle of using alcohol as a crutch for emotional triggers can be challenging, but it is possible. Here are some strategies that could help:

Identify your triggers:

Take some time to reflect on what triggers your desire to drink. This might involve keeping a journal to track your emotional responses to different situations or people.

  • Develop alternative coping mechanisms:

Once you have identified your triggers, think about ways you can cope with them without turning to alcohol. This might involve talking to trusted friend, coach or therapist, engaging in self-care activities like exercise or meditation, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga.

  • Practice self-awareness:

Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. When you notice yourself becoming emotional, take a moment to pause and reflect on why you might be feeling that way.

  • Seek professional help:

If your emotional triggers related to alcohol are impacting your daily life, consider seeking professional help. A therapist or coach can work with you to develop coping strategies and provide support as you work through your triggers.

  • Create a support network:

Surround yourself with people who understand your struggles with alcohol and are supportive of your efforts to break the cycle. This might involve joining a support group or seeking out friends and family members who are committed to helping you stay sober.

Remember, breaking the cycle of using alcohol as a crutch for emotional triggers is a process that takes time and effort. It is important to be patient and kind to yourself as you work through this journey. With the right support and resources, you can take control of your emotional responses and improve your overall mental health and wellbeing.

We run Sober Circles at MLPC during the week where you can drop in and connect with our MLPC community members on their Sober Curious journey.

My Sober Curious Journey

Alcohol for me had a big impact on me and managing my wellbeing, over the years I began to use alcohol as a crutch. When I hit 40 I burnt out and began to explore my relationship with alcohol and became sober curious, I would try dry January & Sober October, I would begin to feel better then would go back to drinking and it would slowly begin to be a crutch for me again, I explored the connection between my wellbeing, physical health, mental health and the impact alcohol had on me.

I have become passionate about exploring my relationship with alcohol and the opportunities, friendships, connections and communities I have become a part of in the sober curious and AF world. I have been sober curious for 8 years and fully Alcohol Free since Dec 31st, 2019.

My mantra all the way through learning to understand my relationship with alcohol and my mental health has been Little Steps.... I truly believe in this and will keep taking little steps every day on my healing journey!

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