Financial Therapy|Public Relations
Michele Paiva


Trauma Trigger Checklist

The following are trauma triggers that you might experience. These are just partial lists. This is just a springboard to understanding.

Visual Triggers

Examples include:

  • A stranger walking down the street
  • Someone in your yard/at your door
  • Harsh weather
  • Overcrowding
  • Someone who resembles abuser
  • Time of year, for instance a season or holiday might be triggering

Sound Triggers

Examples include:

  • Anything that sounds like anger (a raised voice, a thump/bang)
  • The sound of an object that was used in abuse
  • A place sound where abuse happened- (sounds of waves or traffic)
  • Anything that the abuser did (whistle, footsteps, cursing, specific words)

Smell/Scent Triggers

Examples include: 

  • Aftershave
  • Perfume
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Smells of place abuse occurred (food, wood, fire)

Taste and Touch Triggers

Examples include:

  • Someone standing too close
  • Forced hugs
  • The way someone approaches
  • Certain foods
  • Alcohol/tobacco
  • A certain material or texture of food

Managing Triggers

With time and intentional healing, triggers become less meaningful and will hold less power over you. Managing triggers requires that you identify them, manage your symptoms with compassion and perhaps even eliminate them.

Many people do not realize that their confusing emotions like feeling agitated for no reason, crying easily and feeling the need to isolate may be signs of being triggered. Not all triggers are obvious. One common trigger that couples have is that after real or perceived personal rejection, they may decide that they do not want to sleep in bed; in spite of the bed being more comfortable and loving their partner, the trigger is the bed, which symbolizes rejection. 

What can you do?

There are some ways that you can manage your triggers right now. You don’t have to suffer. 

A few self-help tips are below, to help you navigate your traumatic or stressful experiences.

First, a common reaction to trauma is to “measure”, and say things like “Well, other people have had it worse”. 

1. Do not measure your trauma or stressful experience. Your experiences and triggers are valid and should be addressed with compassion, not comparison.

2. Be open. Stigmas are often attached to trauma and it can make you feel weak, dirty, foolish, scared or angry. Reach out to trustworthy people who will be understanding and supportive while you are on your healing journey.

3. Avoid isolation. Even introverts need to have support. Many victims of trauma or chronic stress feel powerless, helpless and tend to isolate emotionally. Your strengths and coping strategies are important right now; exercise them.

4. Join a support group. Think of a support group as a volunteer of your time, an investment of your time, in your healing. I offer a support group, but my free weekly newsletter may be a great start.

5. Learn new strategies and challenge yourself as a new hobby.  You are now on my weekly Dose of Zen newsletter, so you’ll have weekly prompts and access to audios. 

6. Cope with feelings of shame, irritation and other complex emotions. You did the best you could then and right now, you are learning to manage complex emotions and feelings. Be compassionate.

7. Prepare for flashbacks. Flashbacks are not always visual replays; they can be moments out of the blue of shortness of breath, nausea and other symptoms of panic that seem out of the blue. When these happen, try to ascertain what the trigger might be. For instance, after my trauma in my early twenties, I ate at a Chinese restaurant soon after; for years, I could not even smell an egg roll without feeling anxiety that seemed out of the blue. The meal had nothing to do with the trauma.

8. Reconnect to your body and feelings. Move more. Yoga, dance, workout. Anything to simply feel your body again and feel a level of control. This also helps you to burn adrenaline and lower stress levels. Reclaim your body and mind.

9. Take a break from people, places and things that trigger you if possible; you might need a break from certain music or social media. 

These are just a few tips to incorporate right now.

If you’d like to send me a quick message or you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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