Triggers and Seasons

Apple pie, a fire burning, a snowy breeze, and raindrops pitter patter….things we associate with the Fall and Winter season.
The change in seasons usually brings with it certain smells or imagery we may associate with a variety of memories. The sense of smell has a strong connection to memories. The smell of apple pie may invoke wonderful memories of a grandmother’s cooking at a Holiday gathering, but sometimes the sense of smell can be a source of betrayal for those who have been victimized.

Unfortunately the brain is very sensory based when it comes to trauma. ” All it took for the air to smell just right, or a foggy cold morning, or a smell and the memories come flooding in. I let myself reflect on some of it for a while, to process it, and I began to remember details”

The words of this survivor reflects on what so many may experience. Many times one may not even know what a trigger is until it happens and even then it may be difficult to pinpoint the source. The trigger may start a flood of emotions and panic; this is where good mindfulness and grounding techniques come in handy. The DoD Safehelpline App has a great resource for Guided Imagery. If that doesn’t work try this link to find an app that suits your needs ( ) . With triggers being unknown or sudden it is important to have resources available when it happens and you can plug in and become grounded again.

Aside from triggers the Holidays itself can be a source of stress or anxiety for anyone and these exercises will help one be able to better cope with daily challenges.

The other advice I leave is the importance of developing boundaries. As a survivor copes with the assault the demands of life may become increasing loud. It will take time and work, but it okay to say no and to take care of yourself. Getting involved in counseling may assist you in making the small sustainable steps to create boundaries with those involved in your life.

If the Holidays begin to become too much I want to offer an additional support service. The Veterans Crisis Line. It is for active or inactive duty military and their family. They assist with many different issues or concerns.
They can be reached online at: or reached at 1-800-273-8255