New Years Resolutions: How To Avoid Triggers in Your Life
Have you ever eaten a cookie or a chocolate cupcake when you weren't hungry just because you had a bad day? Or maybe it's that glass of wine (or two) in the midst of a stressful afternoon? Before long we've packed on a few extra pounds and don't even realize why!
Being a mom is challenging, fun, and yes, the greatest job in the world. But sometimes moms have stresses to which no one else can relate. It might manifest itself in over eating, over spending, or over indulging in other things. At the root of it is a feeling of needing more instead of being content.
We can develop habits based on stress triggers. Minor occurrences throughout the day can often set off a trigger which can create a negative outcome.
How To Avoid Triggers
Here are 4 triggers that would be best to avoid:
1. Spending Triggers
One mom remodeled her entire home from top to bottom in a process that never seemed to end. When she moved into the house it was a gorgeous $1 million dollar mansion. Now, every single wall, room, curtain, cabinet, and floor has been replaced and there's a continuous stream of contractors in her driveway. Her house is beautiful, but it will never be enough. She enjoys shopping constantly and says it gives her purpose.
Dig deeper and you'd find what's really missing inside. "I never realized it in the past," she says, "but it's kind of a replacement for having my husband around. He is away on business constantly and this house gets all my love. It's kind of a replacement."
Some triggers, such as impulse spending, occur when we buy something we normally wouldn't. Other triggers can occur from a break up, a huge sale going on, or holiday shopping, which makes us particularly vulnerable.
2. Drinking Triggers
Do you reach for a glass of wine or call a friend to come over after a stressful day to eat or drink with you? Are the kids playing video games while you're socializing over drinks? Sometimes it takes months to realize we've developed a habit that we need to let go of. If it's become the go to method for relaxation, instead of a healthier choice, it might be time to evaluate triggers.
3. Eating Triggers
A lot of times we eat and justify it with a workout. One study actually showed that people who began a workout program and gained weight. They thought that the workout cancelled out the food. I've done this before! I've run races and then justified my achievement with chocolate cake!
It's fine to celebrate but being healthy should be the focus. Many times I've found myself eating out of stress versus hunger or justification for running a race.
4. Emotional Triggers
Vic Pynn, author, former prison guard, and human potential expert, notes that some triggers are caused from events that occurred years ago. "In the prison setting, I always had to be aware of an explosive situation," notes Vic. "What triggers an angry outburst could be something very minor, like when someone says something wrong. You have to understand that it might be a response from a buried emotion or event that causes the outburst."
Triggers can also occur in men. In my work with gang members, I find that often a repressed feeling of rejection, or abandonment by a father leads to an angry, violent lifestyle. If someone says something negative, or rejects/ignores them, they might respond abnormally with intense rage. Helping them to let go of their old pain, which is like an anchor, is key. Another strategy is to help them recognize a trigger.
A trigger is a term psychologists have used for decades to capture the catalyst for a destructive event or emotion. If you had a boyfriend who cheated on you and deep down felt rejected at some point in your life, that residue of the event might still linger. If you have ever had a fight before one of your husband's business trips, when your husband leaves again for a trip you might notice yourself finding ways to cope. If you notice these negative emotions becoming a pattern, his travel might be triggering that old emotion.
One way to avoid emotional triggers is to be aware of what's driving your day. Monitor your own spending, emotions, eating, drinking, and notice if you manage them in a negative way. Access what you do when you feel stressed.
In 2016, take one day to write down any trigger you think might be driving behavior. If you notice something negative (such as the kids fighting in your backseat which then leads to a margarita lunch), make a healthier choice instead. Drive to the park and let them run around while you walk, or read a good book. Take time out to evaluate yourself and make healthier choices this next year.
What triggers do you notice in your life? What are you doing to keep them from negatively impacting your life?
Photo from flickr.
Tammy Kling is a life coach, advocate for the homeless, and international author of books including The Compass. Tammy is also the founder of Write it Out, an organization that helps the homeless transform by journaling goals, hopes & dreams via writers workshops, free journals and books. Tammy loves being a mom to two awesome boys, and is also an avid trail and mountain runner, and corporate writer.
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