Feelings and triggers

We all know when we are just not feeling great…


Sometimes it’s because we are tired or that someone has recently upset us. Other times, it’s because we are thinking about something too much or remembering a time when something negative happened.


These can be called TRIGGERS and if we know how to deal with triggers, we can learn to feel better about a situation, ourselves or others.


Triggers are external things that can make us uncomfortable, emotional or even bring on physical reactions such as panic or anxiety. Simply reacting to these triggers can be completely normal, but if we don’t respond in the right way, it can cause us bigger problems like deeper negativity, depression or it could just make everyone around us sad at how we are behaving.


Here’s a short video from some of the young people we work with in SHARP about the things that can cause stress or negativity to students:


Identifying triggers


Triggers can be all sorts of things and arrive in lots of different ways – The possible list may never be finished, but here’s a few common triggers we’ve seen in ourselves and others…


  • The anniversary of something bad happening – Like losing a loved one or something bad popping up on Facebook from last year.
  • News stories or tragic events on TV
  • Too much work, assignments or pressure leaving you feeling overwhelmed
  • Family arguments
  • Relationship problems
  • Being alone for a long time
  • Others judging, teasing, or putting you down
  • Money – getting a big bill, not having enough or debt
  • Feeling unwell or long term health issues
  • Scary music
  • Exposure to something that makes you feel uncomfortable
  • Certain smells, tastes, or noises
  • Consuming alcohol or taking drugs
How do triggers make us feel?


When a trigger arrives, we can act in a variety of ways. These include:


  • Uncontrollable worrying
  • Fear of something – Sometimes we can’t explain it
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Faster heartbeat – Palpitations
  • Difficulty sleeping – Lying awake at night
  • Difficulty concentrating – Getting easily distracted by more negative thoughts
  • Restlessness

Occasional anxiety is common, but chronic feelings of worry, fear, or dread aren’t. They’re a sign you should seek help.


However,  your brain is a really powerful tool and you can teach it to help you deal better with situations or respond in a stronger way. You own your strong young mind!



If we lose something, we can often start to blame someone else – Maybe a brother/sister or parent. This is a common reaction for adults as well as young people. This is your brain’s defence mechanism kicking in, because it hasn’t been taught to act in any other way – It is automatically responding to a trigger!


Imagine the next time this happens, you can teach yourself to be stronger about how you react to this trigger?


Instead of blaming someone else, accept that it is your responsibility to find it and give yourself the opportunity to feel differently about what just happened. We cant promise you will find what you’re looking for, but you may be better able to plan how you will find it, or others may be more willing to help you look for it.


By noticing emotional triggers, we can soon work out if this is something we should actually be worried about or not. Resilience allows us to choose what we want to feel about a situation and then, what we want to do about it.


With practice, the reaction to your emotional triggers could improve and you may notice that you feel better prepared to deal with something that previously could upset you.

Quick tips


Here are some quick tips for you to try next time you feel something trigger an emotion…


  • Relax – breathe and release any tension you may feel
  • Detach – clear your mind of all thoughts, especially negative ones
  • Focus – choose one word that represents how you want to feel rather than how you may be feeling at the moment.
  • Breathe in that word and allow yourself to shift that feeling into a more positive or confident one.