We all get triggered everyday by a multitude of things. A friend sent a cryptic text that has you worried they’re upset with you. Your partner left dirty clothes on the floor again. Your grandma asked when you’re going to have kids. You sat through a tense meeting at work. A stranger yelled at you in traffic. When you feel triggered, what do you do? Knowing how to reset when you feel triggered is one of the most powerful tools you can possess. Today, I’m going to share my 6 favorite techniques with you.
For many of my clients, their chronic stress and anxiety stands in the way of their wellness. Stress and anxiety are an inevitable part of the human experience. When these feelings go unchecked and unmanaged, they linger and weave themselves into our thoughts, interactions, and energy. They become the lens through which we view our lives. When I recognize that a client doesn’t yet have the tools to self-regulate, I know that building and maintaining healthy habits will be immensely challenging for them. The moment they get whipped up in a triggering event, they’ll lose their way.
Because this is true about most women (after all, the patriarchal culture doesn’t encourage women to tune inward and tend to themselves), I teach nervous system regulation techniques to all of my clients. These body-based techniques will help you reset before or after a triggering event. Whether it’s before a tough conversation, after reading an upsetting email, or simply having an unhelpful thought that sends you into an anxious state, use these techniques to clear the rush of anxiety/worry/stress/anger/fill-in-the-blank from your body and reset your energy so you are free to move forward with compassion and clarity.
5 ways to reset when you feel triggered
1. Feel gravity
This is one of the easiest techniques because it is always available to you, and you can do it without anyone noticing. When you feel that wave of emotion, simply focus on the sensation of gravity. Feel how it’s holding and supporting you without you having to do anything. Place your attention on where your body is connecting to a chair or to the ground. See if there’s anywhere in your body where you can relax deeper into the support of gravity.
This simple awareness of physical support in the present moment can loosen the grip of negative emotions.
I’ve heard many a yoga teacher describe the scene of an antelope being chased by a lion, the antelope winning the chase, and the antelope shaking their whole body to release the “flight” nervous system response. As humans in our modern world, we don’t do that. We read a triggering email at our desk and bottle up the feelings. We feel triggered by something our partner said, and we pick a fight about the laundry. In these situations, we could try shaking. There’s no wrong way to do this one. Shake your body in any way that feels good. The sillier, the better!
Check out the video of me doing this one on Instagram.
3. Move your vocal cords
This could be singing, yelling into a pillow, humming, or just making whatever noises feel good in the moment. The vibration of your vocal cords can help release any tension you might be bottling up.
4. Connect with the ground
Grounding is another way to help your body feel held and connected, therefore sending the message to your brain that there’s nothing to fear – you are safe. Take your shoes off and connect with the floor barefoot or sit or lay on the ground. Spending time is nature is also a powerful way to ground. To take this healing technique to the next level, put your hands or body against a tree. Feel how strong and steady it is. Grounding helps bring stability into your present circumstances – very helpful when life feels anything but stable.
5. Try a smiling meditation
They say that mood follows action, and that’s the premise behind this technique. Sit comfortably as you would for a meditation. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Then, bring a smile to your face. It shouldn’t feel forced – just a gentle upturn of the corners of your mouth. Better yet, think about something that always makes you smile naturally. Notice if anything inside you shifts after wearing this smile for a few minutes. You might feel a lightness start to come over you.
Our bodies store all sorts of memories and traumas that get activated in our daily lives. These body-based techniques are powerful ways soothe the triggered feelings and send the message to your brain that you are safe and okay. Over time, you might notice that you get less triggered by situations or that the triggers are less intense than they used to be.
Knowing how to reset when you feel triggered is a powerful way to clear the path toward your goals. Try one of these techniques this week and let me know what shifts.