10 Ways to Calm Down After Getting Triggered.

10 Ways to Calm Down After Getting Triggered.

We all have them, sensitivities that get triggered no matter how much we don’t want them to, and people in our lives who’ve made a hobby out of triggering them. Ex-husbands come to mind.

When I get triggered, my heart pounds, I can’t think straight, and I start pacing around my apartment looking for a special something to calm me down. In the year since I filed for divorce, that special something has ranged from really, really unhealthy to being plain ole’ unhealthy to actually being good for me. Shout out for the healing process.

The list I’m sharing is anecdotal, in that I only know these tools work for me. As much as the statistician in me wants to, I haven’t yet conducted a large-scale study to find out if they are generally effective. Maybe you can help me with that ;-)

You’ll notice that “deep breathing” doesn’t make my list. The last thing I want to do when my phone pings with an obnoxious text from my son’s father is deep-breathe. But the first thing I want to do is illegal, so I settle for the things I’m allowed to do. Those are:

1. Jump up and down in front of the mirror while repeating affirmations.

If you have kids, get them involved, too! This idea actually came from my son’s play therapist, because new research shows that jumping clears trauma from the body.

I am strong!

I am a great mom!

I am wonderful!

I am safe!

I am beautiful!

I am healthy!

I am worthy of respect!

I am smart!

I take the high road!

I am brave!

I am determined!

I am capable!

I am in control of my emotions!

I decide what hurts me!

2. Listen to the first few chapters of Marianne Williamson’s book Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment.

Most self-help books—and ironically, this blog post—talk about ending suffering as quickly as possible. This book opens with the message that we should embrace periods of suffering, because it is through suffering that we achieve enlightenment. It’s a refreshing take on pain, and narrated in Marianne’s own soothing voice.

3. Watch the Joel Osteen sermon called Deep Roots.

I am not religious even though I grew up in an Evangelical Christian church, but I am spiritual. Joel, while the paster of Lakewood Church in Texas, is a gifted motivational speaker and if the word “God” bothers you, just substitute “Universe.” Other helpful sermons include Trouble is your Transportation, and God is your Defender.

4. Give yourself an orgasm.

A doctor once told me how peculiar it is that when we are under stress, our instinct is to release that stress in ways that involve pain. We pick a fight, hurt someone we love, or even hurt ourselves. She thought, Why not discharge that excess energy through pleasure? Why not, indeed. Bonus—when I do this in response to something my ex-husband does, it feels like giving him the ultimate bird.

5. Read inspirational quotes.

My favorites include:

Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Therein lies the grace of God.
God’s love is so great, and His mercy so infinite, that He will always have the final say.
There is nothing that we could ever do or that could ever happen to us—nothing, no matter how sinister—that can ultimately prevail against the Will of God.

I also like to look at inspirational quotes on Instagram.

6. Walk yourself into the bathroom for a time out.

You can even say out loud, “I am having a really hard time controlling my emotions right now—I need a time out.” And then go into the bathroom and sit on the toilet, or futz with your face, or give yourself a pedicure.

7. Write an email—addressed to only you—to the person who triggered you describing how you are going to rise to power and squash them.

I was a dragon in my last one, and I didn’t squash—I gnashed with my razor-sharp teeth.

8. Don’t repeat what just happened to anyone, not even to yourself in your head.

It just gives the incident more power. My favorite healthy way to redirect my mind is to pull out my Grateful Journal and start writing down everything I am grateful for. My son and I do it every morning while we eat breakfast. This is our list from this morning:

I am grateful for coffee.

“I am grateful that it’s not dark.” (My son—he’s 3).

I am grateful that I had bacon to cook my son and me for breakfast.

I am grateful I had fresh strawberries to go with the bacon.

“I am grateful for you.” (My son).

I am grateful for my new physical therapist, who knows what she is doing.

I am grateful that it did not rain on my walk to physical therapy.

I am grateful to have a best friend that loves me so much.

I am grateful that my hair is curly.

I am grateful that my new blue Madewell shirt goes with everything.

I am grateful to earn an income that allowed me to buy the new blue Madewell shirt.

I am grateful that my work let me take time off to support my son.

I am grateful for my apartment’s city view.

I am grateful that I get to eat pot pie for dinner.

I am grateful to have a son.

I am grateful that my son’s current favorite song is, “Nothing Without Love.”

I am grateful for our new piano.

I am grateful that my son calls the Pathetique Sonata, the “Banging One.”

I am grateful for our beautiful apartment.

9. Shop for luxurious things you can’t afford.

You can even put them in your virtual cart, but adhere to a no-buying-for-48-hours policy so you don’t inadvertently add to your own stress by spending money you don’t have. Last time my ex-husband sent me a nasty email, I picked out linen sheets from The Company Store, a new Hughes Sofa from Jaybird Furniture in Essence Aqua, and three pairs of ankle boots. All while watching reruns of Vampire Diaries and eating Vanilla Wafers. It was a really nasty email.

10. Drop to your knees and feel the feeling that manifested as a panic attack.

It’s there, waiting to be honored, and by honoring it you take its power away. Hurt and fear are great candidates if you need a hint. By the way, dropping to your knees can help you learn to identify your feelings at other times, too.