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Trigger Mountain

Written By: Evan Vukets, Registered Clinical Counsellor

A challenging day at work, a late bus, another spam e-mail, driving after a car accident, or a stressful news headline. These are all events that happen during the day that we simply sweep under the rug as we continue on with our busy daily routines. Before we know it, these stressful encounters build to a point where we cannot ignore them and we find ourselves on the top of a mountain of stress. When we are at the summit of this mountain, we are not able to think clearly – which makes us do things we would not normally do. For some this is being unable to communicate effectively and shutting down, while for others this can lead to excessive anger and yelling. Whatever the response is, it generally leads to feelings of guilt, frustration, confusion, and/or hopelessness that it will not change.

Every day we find ourselves unknowingly climbing trigger mountain, and as we do our body prepares us for danger. While the stress we encounter is not a threat that we have to fight or flee from, our Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) responds as if it is. During this stress response:

Heart rate increases - You breathe more quickly and heavily, with the aim of moving nutrients and oxygen out to your major muscle groups.

Your blood Flow Changes - Blood flow is redirected so you feel cold, your hands and feet are clammy, and face may appear flushed.