Two sleeps until Thanksgiving.
To be totally cliché, "How does that make you feel?"
Last week we talked about having a plan for the holiday and I encouraged you to come up with 10 strategies to manage your unpleasant feelings if you felt them creeping in.
Today, we're going to talk about knowing when to implement your plan. Often times my clients tell me they were unaware they were feeling "not okay" until they were hip (not knee) deep in a messy social situation, complete with yelling and crying. I want to help you get better at detecting the early warning signs to avoid this descent into the swamp of yuck. You may even prevent symptoms of depression, anger, anxiety or substance use from occurring as you get better at detecting the warning signs.
People in my line of work (therapists, counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc.) often talk about the concepts of cues and triggers when discussing such things. Cues are like warning signs that something unpleasant may be brewing inside you. Cues generally fall into four main categories, emotional, physical, behavioral and cognitive. Pacing would be an example of a behavioral cue. A cognitive cue might be falling in a loop of thought about getting revenge on someone for something they said six years ago that upset you. Physical cues are sensations in your physical body that change without you intending them to, such as your face getting hot and red or your hands shaking. Emotional cues may be noticing you are feeling sad or angry.
Triggers are things that can contribute to a switch to negative emotional states and/or desire to use drugs or alcohol. Triggers can be darn near anything and typically something you can see, hear, feel, smell or touch. Sometimes even a thought can be a trigger. Triggers are unique to the individual person and may not always make sense to other people in the room. How many times has something bothered you and someone told you (essentially) to just get over it? That could mean whatever just happened may be a trigger for you (and probably not for that other person).
I want to help you build your awareness into your unique personal experiences and by doing so, help you be able to take better control of your behavior, thoughts and feelings. If you have an awareness that something is going wrong, this gives you the ability and power to intervene. Know your cues. Know your triggers. Take a minute to think about them and who typically sets them off this time of year. This will provide you with greater control and more choices over yourself. It will also give you the signal that it's time to grab that plan from last week we talked about and start using it. Knowing your cues and triggers will also give you the ability to improve the quality of your life by managing those difficult people, places and things over the next few months.
If you'd like to learn more about recognizing your cues and managing your triggers, please reach out to me! If you have any questions about my writing or if you would like to talk with me about scheduling an appointment, please feel free to call me at 330-451-6306 for your free 15 minute phone consultation. You may also send me a confidential email by going to the following webpage: https://email@example.com and entering your message. You can also visit my website at http://recoveryworksllc.net for more information about me and the services I offer as well as more to read about mental health and addiction. If you are in crisis, please contact the Coleman Crisis Center in Canton, Ohio at 330-452-6000 for immediate help or the national crisis line at 1-800-275-TALK (8255). You can also text the Ohio Crisis Line by sending "4 hope" to 741-741 or go to the nearest emergency department for immediate assistance.
Have a wonderful holiday week and use that plan!