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Noticing your triggers

Noticing your triggers is something that can be difficult to learn. When you are in emotional distress of any kind, it can be hard to see ‘outside’ of that experience to what might have caused it, as the experience itself is very overwhelming. That’s why it can be useful to think about this even when you’re feeling better or your distress has somewhat subsided, as it could help you protect yourself from environments that negatively impact your mental health.

A trigger might be obvious, for example, an upsetting word or image, but could also be harder to pinpoint, for example, a general sense of unease after spending a lot of time with someone or talking about a particular topic in depth. 

Another reason it can be difficult to spot triggers is that they may be things that are part of every day, ‘normal’ life, which aren’t always things we are taught that we can question or challenge. For example, some people find loud noises particularly alarming, and find that they trigger symptoms of panic, fear or anxiety, so they would feel safer in environments where people try to be actively mindful of that.

It is always okay to say something if there is an activity, experience or conversation that causes you emotional distress - you might find that something can be done to avoid having to encounter it again. Ultimately, you deserve to be in an environment that makes you feel safe and secure.

Psychology Today have these top tips to managing your emotional triggers which you may find helpful.


There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.

If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.

What young people have told us:

'Noticing what triggers you off gives you the opportunity to repel a negative consequence in your mind. by avoiding the trigger or thinking against the negative consequence.'