Not every person feels in control of his or her emotions 100 percent of the time. In fact, during times of transition, such as divorce, it’s common for people to experience periods of severe weakness that feel insurmountable. Just because a situation feels overwhelming, does not mean it has to be endured to a crushing degree. Instead, paying attention to four specific things that trigger emotional swings is all it takes to help lessen intense times.
One: Environmental Triggers (your things). Environmental triggers are changes that have happen in your environment because of divorced-related events. For instance, couples who are living in the house together but now have separate bedrooms is a constant reminder of the status of their relationship. Environmental triggers remind you that something negative has caused change in your life. The quickest way to combat the trigger is to deliberately create a mood in your environment that will stop the trigger (i.e. turn extra lights on to brighten the space, play music, turn the television on—anything to get rid of the quiet that triggers negative emotions.). To help, survey your environment for things that trigger your emotions. Put them away. Out of site, out of mind.
Two: Mental Triggers (your mind). Mental triggers are negative thoughts that contribute to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness about your transition. It’s very easy to get caught up in a downward emotional spiral when you feed yourself negative thoughts. For instance, if you have not told your partner that you want a divorce, telling yourself you are a failure does nothing to help you move forward. To help, make a list of five positive statements regarding your situation. To retrain your thinking toward a more positive way of thinking, wear a rubber band around your wrist. Each time you catch yourself saying something negative, snap it and then replace the thought with one of the five positive statements on your list.
Three: Physical Triggers (your body). When your body is worn down from lack of sleep, not enough sunlight, poor eating or lack of exercise, your mind is less able to cope with the excess stress during the divorce transition. When this happens, it makes it easier
To help, pay close attention to what your body needs. If you need a nap, take one. If you’re not eating, force yourself to eat something healthy. If you’ve isolated yourself, phone a friend. Attending to your physical needs is the best way to give your mind the strength to make it through emotional times.
Four: Behavioral Triggers (your actions). Behavioral triggers are actions or activities that cause your mood to change. For instance, doing things that result in a more depressed mood should be avoided at all cost (i.e. avoiding your support system, visiting places with negative reminders, looking at photos from happier times). To help, start paying attention to the times when your mood is extra low. Reflect on the possible actions that may have caused the dip. You will begin to see a pattern and learn to avoid behaviors that make you feel worse.
Once you are able to recognize the ways in which your emotions are being triggered, you will be able to make small adjustments that will make a big impact on how you feel.
Bio: Nancy Fagan is the founder of The Divorce Help Clinic LLC™ (divorce planning & divorce mediation services), a Huffington Post divorce writer and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Romance” (Macmillan Publishing) and “Desirable Men: How to Find Them” (Prima Publishing). As a nationally recognized divorce and relationship expert, dubbed “The Divorce Reporter,” she has appeared on countless television and radio shows, and quoted in national magazines and popular On-line publications since 1997. In addition, she is considered a pioneer in the field of pre- divorce planning and frequently sought out to speak on the topic. Nancy holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with extensive training in divorce mediation and alternative dispute resolution. To learn more, visitTheDivorceHelpClinic.com.