This month I would like to share with you about triggers and how amazingly helpful in supporting you to be happier, in supporting you to live the life you want and be emotionally and mentally healthy, when you identify them and create action plans.
Through creating a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) 12 years ago I learnt to identify and action plan my triggers and it is no exaggeration when I tell you that doing this transformed my life. From feeling powerless and unhappy with my triggers, I began to feel in control of my life, how I felt and the choices I made.
Triggers are events or circumstances that may produce symptoms or feelings that may be very uncomfortable or distressing, or that may worsen an already existing condition. Sometimes we feel as if they make us go ‘backwards’ or throw us into a ‘downward spiral’. These things happen to everyone, no-one is immune to triggers.
Triggers can be things like work stress; family friction; anniversary dates of losses or trauma; being very over-tired; relationships ending; being judged or criticised; financial problems; physical illness; being self-critical; sexual harassment; spending too much time alone; a particularly difficult person in your life, etc.
It is valuable to be aware of the feelings or symptoms you experience when you are being triggered, that kind of self-awareness is really useful because then you can become more aware of when your symptoms are worsening.
The next step to take once you have identified your triggers is to create an action plan for each one. An action plan is something you can create that lists the steps you might take in order to minimise the effect of the trigger.
One of my triggers is winter, when the nights are darker earlier and the mornings are darker later, it is generally called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). My symptoms are feeling low in mood for most of the day, continually tired, needing more sleep, cravings for sugar, irritability, feeling low in enthusiasm and struggling to get out of bed.
I created an action plan to help me cope with this trigger that includes sitting in front of a light box every morning, this is called light therapy; I also take extra vitamins; make sure that I am eating a well balanced diet; journal how I am feeling; attend yoga classes; get outside each day and spend time doing things I enjoy with family and friends.
Having this action plan means that when winter comes around now I cope with it very well, maintaining my energy, my enthusiasm for life and feel hopeful and positive.
For lots of us ,a difficult person in our lives is a common trigger, they can be work colleagues, family members or neighbours etc. The action plan we could create might include things like:- have good boundaries; be clear about what you will and won’t accept; limit the time you are with them; journal how you are feeling; talk to someone you trust; make sure that other people are about when you are with them; talk to them and tell them how you feel; try and look for something you like about them; tell yourself, a positive affirmation i.e. ‘I am always good enough’ ‘I deserve respect’ ‘ Whatever happens I can handle it’
I hope that you can see that if you create an action plan for each of your triggers that the trigger will no longer have the same negative impact on your life. It can be really empowering and potentially life changing.
Working out what your triggers are and action planning is part of creating your Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). WRAP courses are delivered world-wide for people dealing with all kinds of health and life challenges. Having a WRAP plan helps you feel better, manage medical challenges, decrease and prevent intrusive or troubling feelings and behaviours. WRAP also helps you to take control of your own life, improve the quality of your life and plan and achieve your life goals and dreams.
I am an Accredited Advanced WRAP Facilitator and deliver WRAP courses and training, for adults and children experiencing life’s challenges, if you would like any further information please contact me at email@example.com or through www.circleswork.co.uk