10 Ways to Calm Down When You’re Feeling Triggered

Ever feel so upset in a moment you can’t think straight? Or so angry at a particular situation that you end up saying or doing something you later regret?

An emotional trigger is a topic, action, or even a word that immediately sends us into deep feelings of pain or anxiety. Triggers are typically connected to upsetting or traumatic situations in our past and they can be challenging to navigate.

When we are in a state of emotional trigger, we often have trouble accessing the more logical, “higher self” parts of our brain and may react to a given situation impulsively or in a way that is out of character. Luckily, there are many effective methods for calming down when feeling triggered. Here are just a few strategies.

  1. Recognize your trigger. By acknowledging to yourself or others that you are feeling triggered, you can make some space between you and the emotion you’re feeling.
  2. Breathe mindfully. Take 10 deep breaths in and out through your nose. This can help slow your heart rate and calm your system.
  3. Connect with your surroundings. Look around the room and name all the blue objects you see, or perhaps name what you see, smell, hear and taste in that order.
  4. Change your environment. Take a walk outside or change up your activity or environment to help release the hold of the trigger and calm your nervous system.
  5. Call a friend for support. Even the act of reaching out for help can help reduce feelings of panic or fear. Make sure you are reaching out to someone not directly involved in the triggering situation.
  6. Relax your muscles. Focus on relaxing one muscle at a time, particularly muscles in your neck, jaw and shoulders. Give yourself a self-massage if it feels good.
  7. Practice self compassion. Remind yourself that everyone gets triggered and soothe yourself by offering self compassion and self care.
  8. Focus on gratitude. Without suppressing or ignoring your triggered feelings, add some gratitude into the mix. Make a mental or written list of the positive aspects of your life.
  9. Journal. Write down what is bothering you and try to connect with your unmet needs or desires underneath the feelings of anger, sadness or frustration.

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