How to Avoid Being Triggered by the News Cycle
Whether you follow politics or not, the recent news cycle has been rife with stories of sexual assault and abuse. For people who are recovering from physical violence, some of these stories – even the ones told in solidarity – can be a psychological trigger. A trigger is something that ignites memories of victims’ past trauma, causing further anxiety. A trigger can cause hours, days, or even weeks of emotional pain. If strolling through social media or watching TV has been difficult for you lately, here are some ways to avoid being triggered by what’s happening in the world.
Some people might suggest simply not watching the news during these times, but it can be impossible. The worst of the stories show up on all social media sites, and people share them without thinking about how others will react to the worst of these. From the Kavanaugh hearings to the various news reports regarding Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, and Harvey Weinstein, among others, most of these mainstream media stories are trying to the change the world for the better by exposing predators. Some of that change, unfortunately, involves retelling stories of such trauma that hearers who have suffered violence must relive painful instances.
Negotiating a Traumatic Past When Assault Dominates the News
During this time of change for the nation, where we feel both relief that these stories are being told and fear those stories might be a trigger of past trauma, those who have suffered violence must protect themselves. Some of that involves creating an emotional toolkit to guard against the worst of these storms.
Here are some ways to help you with triggers when sexual violence is always the news lede.
- Plan for a calm moment. Sometimes, awareness is the only protection you have. Practice self-care by having a plan in place when you know the news cycle will involve triggers for you. If you’re reading Facebook and a story pops up that triggers trauma, have something in mind that you can do – meditate, go for a walk, or call a friend – so you don’t have to think about the next steps.
- Put on a timer. It can be easy to fall into the rabbit hole of digital life or mainstream news, but if you set a timer, you can catch up and give yourself the time you need to recover. It’s tough going from news to real life, so add some time to do something positive if you’re feeling anxious.
- Support each other. If the news cycle is triggering for you, you can bet you’re not the only one. Take to social media and plan blackout for victims times for victims of domestic assault. Create a coffee date for those in your circle to talk about how they are handling what’s happening. Be active. When you become a leader for those who are suffering, it can help you handle the trauma you’ve faced.
It’s Okay to Switch It Off
Remember, you’re allowed to take some time away from the news. You don’t owe it to anyone to be in the “know” regarding current Supreme Court shakedowns, pop culture happenings, or even sports drama if it is a trigger. It also might help to know that things will get better. Healing after a trauma doesn’t happen in a line; some days are going to be fine and some will be a challenge to get through – and you can’t count on how you felt yesterday or how you’ll feel tomorrow. Give yourself space to heal and permission to shut the noise off when you need.