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Recognising and Coping with Emotional Triggers

Updated: May 25, 2023

Emotions are integral to the human experience; we all experience them differently. However, there are times when certain emotions can be overwhelming and challenging to manage. Most of us experience disturbing events or people. We may not think of them frequently, yet we are triggered constantly by them.

The term "triggered" refers to a situation or experience that causes an intense emotional response, such as anxiety, fear, anger, or sadness. Emotional triggers happen when an association between a specific event or experience evokes painful emotion. Emotional triggers happen in many situations, including social events, conversations, and certain media content. You may also experience emotional triggers when you meet people or see objects that remind you of that painful memories or events.

It is important to recognise emotional triggers because strong emotional reactions may lead to maladaptive behaviours or thoughts. Strong emotional reactions to events or people often indicate unresolved past traumatic experiences. Developing strategies to cope with emotional triggers and strong emotional responses is essential for managing overwhelming emotions effectively to benefit your mental wellness and your relationships.

In helping to recognise emotional triggers, it is essential to be aware of your physical reactions, such as tension in the body or changes in breathing patterns. As you become aware of the triggers and your emotional responses, reflecting on past experiences and situations that have led to strong emotional reactions can provide insight into the cause of your emotional triggers. Awareness of what triggers strong emotional reactions can help you to strategies to regulate your emotional responses.

Once you have identified your emotional triggers, it's time to learn how to cope with them. One of the most effective ways to cope with emotional triggers is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply being present moment by moment by paying close attention to your thoughts and emotions. Practising being present from moment to moment is helpful to help you become aware when you are emotionally triggered and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Other coping strategies to manage emotional triggers include deep breathing and talking to someone trusted. Working with professional counsellor or psychotherapist will help you process the events or the traumatic experiences which trigger the strong emotional responses.

Restoring Peace is a private mental health centre which provides counselling and psychotherapy services for children, adolescents, youths and adult individuals, couples and groups with anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and various mental health and relationship challenges. For more information, please visit or WhatsApp at +65 8889 1848. For periodic updates, we invite you to join our telegram group,

Keywords: counselling, psychotherapy, mental health, trauma, psychological, emotions,

anxiety, depression, stress, memories, triggers, coping strategies


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