I recognize when my body goes into a stress response: tight jaw, overheating, nerves all a-buzz. I’ve spent time watching my body to recognize these physical responses. I’ve also dedicated a lot of time to journalling over that past six months. It’s helped me to identify four specific situations that provoke a stress response in me. I thought that once I’d identified my “triggers*,” all I would have to do was avoid them, or manage them, and life would be easy.
Can’t Control Triggers.
As it turns out, the situations that cause stress responses in me, can’t always be avoided or managed. One of my triggers is being late for an appointment. I looked at reasons why I was running late and ways to avoid procrastination (click here to see my previous post for tips). But I only have limited control over being late. Sometimes there is a lot of traffic. Things can get lost at the last minute. The weather can screw with my plans. No matter how hard I try to manage a situation, I will never be able to avoid it altogether. This causes me more stress, knowing that I have limited control!
Benefits Of knowing my “triggers:”
- I can quickly identify when I’m having a strong emotional response and what it feels like in my body.
- Thanks to the extreme stress of the pandemic, I did discover several calming techniques that help settle my body a little when I’m overwhelmed.
Accepting Triggers, Not Avoiding Them
Perhaps, avoiding events that cause me to feel high stress is not the goal and learning to accept them is. I can’t control the situations but I can control my response to them. Now I’m learning to shift my state from agitated to calm. I’m adding more resources to my self-soothing kit by trying “anchoring.”
We create anchors before we get triggered so we can draw on the tool when we need it. We begin by identifying what it feels like in our body when we are in touch with our inner power, our zone of leadership. We then create a physical, visual or auditory cue than can serve as an anchor to pull us back into our zone.**Robert Gass, Judith Ansara
I plan to try physical anchoring by choosing a posture that makes me feel connected to my “place of power” and then taking some deep breaths the next time I’m triggered. (I think mountain pose will work well for me.) Developing my resilience, and not avoiding triggers, is the next step in my self-calming journey.
**Click here for some great tools for how to shift your state from one of high stress to one of focus and calmness.
Journalling has been a powerful tool for me in this process. There’s no denying something when I see it written over and over in front of me. Click here for some videos of journalling techniques.