Friday 9 December 2016

Bressie: Identify your triggers to combat anxiety

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to live a happier life. Niall Breslin has trained himself to act as soon as he feels anxious or depressed

Niall Breslin

Published 26/01/2016 | 02:30

Bressie urges people to become self-aware of their triggers.
Bressie urges people to become self-aware of their triggers.

I'll be honest, sometimes I have to make the same mistake three or four times before I cop on. You see, the difference with my anxiety and depression now, compared to the past is my self-awareness and ability to analyse the 'triggers' that can bring on periods of uneasiness.

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Many people ignore their triggers even though they could be staring them in the face, and causing them to compound and promote their distress.

In the absence of self-awareness of your triggers, you can find yourself exposed to people, situations and environments that are like a toxic drain on your physical and mental energy, which can result in a magnifying effect of your low moods and stress levels.

In situations like this I now know for example to completely avoid alcohol in any capacity. In a country where our culture is so intertwined with alcohol this can be difficult, and on top of that many people with mental health issues refuse to recognise the part drinking alcohol can have on their bodies and minds.

I cannot afford to avoid these self-awareness practices in the same way somebody with perhaps a physical illness can't avoid their required medication.

They are part of my life and I must sustain and practice them every day.

As well as avoiding alcohol, here is an example of what else works for me when I feel uneasiness kicking in:

• I delete news apps from my phone and distance myself from watching the news.

• I make a meditation / mindfulness plan where I meditate in the morning and evening every day, to calm my mind down and re-focus.

• I meal-prep lunch and dinners for myself so I get the nutrients and food I need to stay healthy.

• I do what I can to create a regular sleeping pattern where I get to bed at the same time each evening.

• I make a promise to turn off my phone after 7pm in the evening and go on airplane mode (my phone without doubt can be the biggest stressor in my life, and I need to spend a few hours a day without it).

• I avoid toxic people / environments.

• I set a new healthy goal for myself - see below:

It's important not to be hard on yourself when you go through periods of unhappiness or anxiety. The ability to comprehend how normal this is, is really critical, but even more critical is having the self-awareness to understand the triggers that could potentially be causing it and take action accordingly.

In my case it has an immediate and sustained effect and helps me to prevent that initial sense of uneasiness from developing into something more difficult to deal with.

I've also just signed up for my first full Ironman next year in Copenhagen, and got my coach to outline my training programme for the coming months and got back to regular exercise.

Perhaps you can do something like this too by signing up and joining us in our Phoenix Park walk / run?

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