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Today’s Anxiety Tip: Call out Triggers

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 ~ 

This week I’ve encountered many people struggling with fear. They may not know immediately that the frustrating feeling is fear, but as we talk, it begins to sound like fear to me. This may be happening to you, too.
You’ve made some changes in your life and you know they are healthy changes, but you find yourself worrying and obsessing without a good reason? 
Maybe you’ve stopped some unhealthy habits, say, excess alcohol or sugar, and you were hopeful about the future, but now you feel sluggish and unmotivated. Maybe you’ve changed jobs or made some career decisions that give you more free time, but you feel guilty, rather than free?
When we follow our dreams, make new plans, let ourselves grow, we feel excited and hopeful. Then it changes. Anxiety, fear, guilt and sometimes shame seem to take over.
Why does this happen? It’s complicated.

The part of your brain that is in charge of keeping you safe, really prefers that your life stay the same. This primative area in your brain, in all of our brains, is ever watchful for signs that we may be in over our heads, are reaching too far, into uncharted territory. It is very sensitve to triggers and when it discovers a possible threat it sends you fear signals.

Even taking a day off to relax, get well, go to an appointment, or do a project can trigger this anxiety and fear. I’m hearing the same story from a big group of strong, smart, responsible people.
So, what to do about it?
Accept that these things are TRIGGERS, not signs that something is going terribly wrong.

  1. Notice the triggers. Have you made some big changes in the way you live your life or do your work? Has something changed for you because of someone else’s decisions?
  2. List the triggers as they come up. List the big and the small.
  3. Pause and breathe. Take 3 to 5 deep breaths. This resets your alarm system. It’s a way to send a calming message to your body and brain.
  4. Turn your attention to a soothing memory or person. Take a minute to really dwell on this and let the good feelings put you back in a state of equilibrium.

Go on with your life. Keep pursuing your plans. The more you practice calling out the triggers, the easier it will be.

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