Steps to Recovery: How to Avoid and Be Aware of Triggers

After experiencing trauma, your teen might encounter certain situations that could bring up old feelings surrounding that initial traumatic event. These moments are called triggers and they’re a normal part in the recovery process from PTSD. However, there are ways that your teen can be aware of triggers to help lessen symptoms of PTSD. Here are five things they can do the next time they face a potential trigger.

Recognize Triggers

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Identifying triggers can take some time and experience, but when your teen encounters one, they can record the instance in a journal—including what caused the returning feelings, how it happened and their reaction. This will help your teen recognize similar moments in the future so that they can prepare accordingly.

Tell Others

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It might be difficult, but opening up to friends and family members can help your teen avoid triggers. After all, the solution might involve a simple fix in their everyday life in order to alleviate a lot of discomfort. Alternatively, it makes it easier for loved ones to support your teen if they do experience a trigger and a resurfacing of negative emotions, enabling them to help your teen reach a sense of peace and calm sooner.

Assess the Situation

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When a trigger arises, it might cause your teen to have a flashback of the traumatic incident that caused them to have PTSD in the first place. One technique they can try is to identify the current moment as what it is—not the original event. Do fireworks remind your teen of gunfire? Or do hospital TV shows remind them of being sick? Your teen can keep in mind that those are just fireworks or a TV show. Their feelings of anxiety and fear aren’t any less real in these moments, but they’re not necessarily appropriate reactions to what’s actually happening. It might help if your teen writes out a mantra that they can repeat in their mind as a reminder that they’re in a safe environment.

Use Mindfulness and Meditation

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Mindfulness and meditation are practices that bring your teen’s mind into the here and now; they can be excellent tools when preparing for triggers. For example, if your teen is entering a situation that they know could possibly be a trigger, they can take a moment to meditate and repeat a mantra of positivity. This can help to boost their feelings of positivity and make them feel like they have more control when approaching the situation.

Perform a Grounding Technique

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When your teen’s in a moment that’s particularly stressful, grounding techniques can help their mind to stop racing, focus and calm down. Some of these activities might seem silly, but they can be extremely effective. For example, your teen can try counting all the things in the room that are yellow. Or recite a poem in their head. They can also do multiplication tables or count letters on signs. Like meditation, this brings their mind into the present moment, which can slow down rapid thoughts and feelings of fear and anxiety.

Feature Image: Ashim D’Silva