What triggers you?
Is it an annoying driver on the expressway that cuts you off?
Maybe it’s the tone of voice of a co-worker or family member.
If you’re an emotional eater, it could be the smell of baking bread or cookies. Burger and pizza commercials can be very tempting, causing your mouth to water.
In psychology, a trigger is defined as a stimulus that causes a painful memory to resurface. The sound of gunshots or fireworks can trigger trauma for combat veterans or students who were involved in a mass shooting.
Sometimes triggers result from emotional or physical trauma experienced earlier in life.
We may have been bullied as a child or were in an abusive relationship. When we witness similar behavior from someone else, whether it’s directed at us or another person, it triggers painful memories that cause us to react in unhealthy ways.
Whatever the trigger, it can be a source of stress, especially if it’s an ongoing occurrence.
Triggers can result in emotional outbursts that are detrimental to communication and can destroy relationships. They can deplete productivity, due to lack of focus, and cause physical ailments such as tension headaches, migraines, digestive problems, or insomnia. If not managed, they can lead to chronic stress which may cause heart disease, stroke, a compromised immune system, and some forms of cancer.
Awareness of triggers is the first step to managing them. Triggers can be so deeply ingrained that it takes coaching or therapy to create awareness. In many instances, it’s a matter of being present and curious as to why we are reacting the way that we are. This involves pausing to learn instead of reacting.
Mental fitness is a very effective technique for managing stress and emotional triggers.
By definition, mental fitness is our capacity to respond to life’s challenges with a positive rather than a negative mindset. This is accomplished by completing a 10-15 second micro-meditation engaging your senses. It may look something like this…
Imagine looking at something so intently that it’s as if you’re looking at it for the first time. Notice colors, shapes, textures, possibly a reflection in the surface.
Notice the most distance sound you can hear. It might be a passing car or a conversation in another room. Next, notice the closest sound you can hear. This most often is your breath.
Rub two fingers together with such attention that you feel the fingertip ridges on your fingertips. Are your fingertips dry or are they smooth? What is the temperature of your fingertips?
These micro-meditations are called PQ reps. With each PQ Rep, you develop mastery over your mind, quieting the negative emotions that reside in your left brain and activating your positive, right brain. When we respond to challenges from the right side of our brain, we experience clear-headed focus, peace, and calm. Right brain focus also results in improved health and wellness, productivity, and communication.