Invisible Injuries- Mental health ambassadors

S01 - Dealing with triggers 3

September 09, 2021

police squad holding back anti riot in streets with messaging in text

A trigger is something (e.g. a sight, sound, smell, taste or bodily sensation) that sets off a reaction, taking you back to a particular event or situation. Triggers are highly unpredictable. Fearing and fleeing from triggers doesn’t work. It’s better to face them and deal with them. So instead of going for avoidance, go for acceptance. Dealing with them takes out their stink, and enables us to remain in control.

“Breathe it away” This is another powerful technique for gaining control over triggers. Often triggers can lead to a serviceman taking a sharp in-breath. This technique enables people to maintain control by controlling their breathing.

When the trigger occurs, take control first by naming the experience (sight, sound, smell, taste, bodily sensation) as a trigger. Then slowly breathe out, using your diaphragm (this means ensuring your stomach goes in on the out-breath, and out on the in breath.
Practical – Breathe in slowly & gently for 7 secs, then breathe out for 11 secs.

This type of breathing is widely recommended for people who want to get control back for themselves, on occasions when they are feeling out of control.

How to use for best results –“horses for courses” applies. Some might find one tool or technique helpful, others will experiment with another that proves helpful. All are available to try and it’s often about finding “what works”.

*Reprinted with permission 2020
@john henden