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Making Sense of Your Triggers

Your triggers are the hidden messages working behind the scenes to keep you trapped. 

This post walks you through one of the most critical yet underrecognized facets to neurological disorders.

According to the Migraine.com 2015 study – Uncontrollable events, such as weather or stress, were cited among the most frustrating migraine triggers [*].

When you say these events are uncontrollable you suggest that you are helpless and reactionary to their circumstance. That is false; they are controllable in your ability to respond to them – as the case for any potential trigger.

Have you ever got into an argument, ate spicy foods, watch a horror film, worried about money, became bored and ancy, or what about a stressful moment at work?  

Was there ever a time when you had to say NO to someone?

Every one of the examples can be a trigger and act as nervous system stimuli.

What triggers do you experience?

A trigger can be defined as an activity which causes neurological stimuli. This cause and effect scenario forces your brain and nervous system to send signals, chemicals, and responses throughout your body. Depending on the trigger, you will experience a wide array of symptoms.

There are twelve primary trigger categories:

1. Dietary

Processed foods, nitrates, sulfates, MSG, soy, corn, high-histamine, inflammatory, tyramine, cheese, and conventional meats have been linked to headaches and nervous system stimuli.

2. Hormonal

Endocrine disruptors, fluctuations within estrogen levels, imbalance of cortisol and insulin, and adrenal fatigue can be potential triggers.

3. Environmental

Allergens, shifts in the barometric pressure, humidity and altitude shifts are known triggers. Changes in weather, temperature, and seasons are additional factors.

4. Stress

Prolonged stress response can create significant problems within the body, especially to the endocrine system.

5. Physical

Trauma, car accidents and concussions are all linked to migraine. 38% of new migraine sufferers experience physical related trigger as cause of headache.

6. Sleep

Changes in normal sleep patterns will deplete your “feel good” neurotransmitters: dopamine and serotonin.

7. Emotional and Spiritual

Repressed emotional and spiritual expression can manifest into health issues. Cognitive Distortions and post-traumatic stress disorder can also factor into emotional and spiritual triggers.

8. Medication

Chemicals and toxins in medications will alter your body’s biochemistry and can lead to rebound headaches and medication overuse headaches. Additionally, prolonged use can cause liver damage.

9. Nutritional

One of the least discussed but clinically recognized is the cause and effect of nutritional deficiency. Lack of essential nutrients can cause significant shifts in body performance and nervous system activity.

10. Chemical

Toxins found in many consumer products contain toxic chemicals that can create fluctuations in body systems. Some can act as stimuli triggering migraine response.

11. Genetic

Your genetic makeup can contain specific elements from family history that make you more susceptible to migraine headache and other health conditions; however, it does not mean that you are trapped.

12. Sensory Sensitivity

How you process stimuli can over-excite your nervous system. This can range from smells to stress and even conversations. Depending on how sensitive you are will depict the frequency and pain of headaches.

Why keeping a trigger journal is ineffective?

When you start to examine and journal your triggers it is common to feel as if your entire life is one gigantic trigger. Recognize it, accept it, but do not let it consume you.

Working through your triggers is about creating balance. It is so much more than just keeping a log, it is about examining the cause and effect and helping you uncover the patterns that are causing the stimuli. Most importantly, it is about adopting a new way of thought, action, or process to make sure the stimuli does not have such a powerful reaction next time.    

Truthfully, trigger journals are bogus because at the root, you will always feel as if you are giving up something. No one ever wants to feel as if they are forced to give up something they enjoy because their body can no longer accept it.

At the bottom of the article I have included a link to our trigger tracker worksheet.

The Science Behind the Head Health, Inc. Trigger Therapy

Keeping your nervous system at bay is the primary objective; however, we are not here to keep you living underground.

The more triggers you have firing at once – the more susceptible your nervous system will be to migraines, headaches, and concussions.

When you are able to recognize how your nervous system is reacting, you can develop your own lifestyle protocol.

Reduce the Nervous System Stimuli

Once you are aware of your triggers and stimuli, you need to work through the process one-by-one. Understand how specific events are working through your body. Recognize the cause and effect of “stressful” events; tough conversations, money, etc.

It may seem like an overwhelming and daunting task but fear not. You are capable.

[Example] Take a moment and think about it. If you are having a difficult conversation what is that doing within your body? First and foremost, we know that your CNS is being directly impacted as it has to do with your emotions. Secondly, your sympathetic division of the ANS is being triggered causing your body to go into a flight or fight response. Heart rate is stimulated, hormones are being released, and your digestion is altered; which means that your ENS is simultaneously working behind the scenes.

The point that I am trying to make and for you to achieve your breakthrough is this: What do you need to do to create balance? What do you need to give your body in order for you to achieve homeostasis?  

Once you are able to understand how the stimuli is working through your mind, your body, your spirit, and your brain – you can develop your own personal toolkit and systematic process to stop the trigger from taking control of your wellbeing.

Read further: How to stop the rogue trigger

Before you do anything though, make sure that you have a handle on your triggers. 

Lifestyle Examples

  • Reduce Stress: 
  • Eat proper foods:
  • Journal: 
  • Supplements:
  • Get your digestion in balance
  • Mediation
  • Breathing
  • Biofeedback
  • CBT
  • Aromatherapy
  • Be aware
  • Nootropics
  • Epsom Salt baths
  • Music therapy
  • Creating your personal space
  • Step away from social media

How are you able to combat your nervous system stimuli? Are there any tips and tricks that you have been able to uncover that is not on the list? Looking forward to seeing your comments.

Former chronic daily migraine, PTBI, and concussion sufferer of 16 years. His became free from migraine, concussion, and headache-related symptoms on May 13, 2011.

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