The Cambridge dictionary definition of a trigger is ‘something that causes something to start.’ So in the theme of eating disorders, a trigger is anything that causes the sufferer to get urges to revert back to unhealthy ED behaviours/adopt an unhealthy mindset.
When you have recognised your triggers, the next step is for you to create a series of steps that you can take when your triggers occur. I have created my own series which I hope will help you!
- If your trigger is something that can be avoided by getting out of the situation, then don’t hesitate to remove yourself from that environment!! You need to prioritise you!
- When you have removed yourself from the triggering situation (or if you can’t get out of the situation, found a quiet area to sit), try to focus on your breathing. You don’t want to get yourself really worked up, so make sure that you are taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you’re doing so, try to create positive imagery in your head to make you feel calmer.
- If you can, distract yourself with something that you enjoy to take your mind off what is triggering you. For me when I’m struggling I find that something as simple as reading a book, or listening to music, is super helpful. Try to develop a list of distraction techniques that work for you.
- Try to rationalise your worries in your head (I know this is hard in the moment but it’s so important.) If your trigger is mirrors, particularly when you body check after meals, remind yourself that you will not have gained weight through eating that chicken burger or eating that pizza, although it feels very real at the time, the reflection staring back at you isn’t real.
- Talk to someone you trust and let them know how you’re feeling. By making them aware of your triggers and how you respond to them, they can learn the warning signs that suggest that you have been triggered, and develop their own series of steps, just like this one, that they can use to try to help you.
- Stay strong. Remind yourself that you are stronger than this illness. Keep fighting.