Every human being has (or will) experience a disaster in their lifetime. Whether natural, accidental or an act of terror, we will all witness the aftermath of a major life-changing event. The onslaught of news coverage, social media, and 24/7 access to real-time information brings a steady stream of trauma through our devices and into our lives. Many of us even have alerts set up to give us immediate news almost the instant it occurs, but what does this open door to our minds do to our mental wellbeing? Here are five helpful tips to remain informed while practicing self-care:
1. Limit viewing time for yourself and your children. However, don’t keep it a secret. Openly discussing current events is helpful as children are curious. Their understanding is very different than yours and it may feel wrong talking with them about something scary, but keeping bad news a secret is not healthy. Instead, choose a time of day to check your favorite news source, take any notes you need and turn it off. Easier said than done, of course, but a constant stream of traumatic news can be damaging in the long run. For more information on limiting social media access for children: CLICK HERE
2. Take action, if you would like. In times of tragedy, people come together. As humans, when we see someone suffering we are biologically wired to react and help. That is most certainly what makes people wonderful, especially in times of extreme duress. If you would like to volunteer, donate or take another action to help after a tragedy, that can help bring a sense of normalcy and closure to the event for you. Join advocacy groups, volunteer organizations working on behalf of people, call your state representatives and ask others to join you.
3. Talk about your feelings. You are not alone in this awful event. Chances are, your friends and family are experiencing similar stress and sadness. Getting together to talk about what has happened and its impact will allow you to work through your emotions in a healthy way. If you need a professional, reach out to A Chance to Change or another counseling agency.
4. Do Something Light. When tragedies happen, it can feel like there is nothing to celebrate or enjoy. The simple act of taking a walk, throwing the ball for your dog, playing tag with your children or snuggling up to a loved one increases endorphin and releases dopamine, bringing feelings of security and happiness back to your life.
5. Write about it. Writing about a significant time in your life can help you process and release the emotions associated with that time. When we chronicle our feelings, fears and insights in response to events in our life, we have solidified those emotions and are better equipped to deal with life after the tragedy.
For more information on coping with tragedies and disasters
TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: