We live in particularly difficult times, with natural and human-made disasters and tragedies occurring on what feels like a constant basis. In a twenty four hour news cycle, with constant social media bombardment, it’s possible to be traumatized even by events we have not personally lived through.
Simply witnessing the events or their aftermath, broadcast over and over again on the news, can cause forms of secondary trauma. And for those people who have a personal history of trauma, continuous exposure to violence and devastation can have a particularly intensified effect. Here are several tips offered by trauma experts for coping in the aftermath of tragedy. You can read more in the articles linked below.
- Honor whatever it is you’re feeling. It’s possible to feel badly for feeling badly when so many people are much worse off. Your experience does not invalidate theirs. Your emotions are worth listening to. Give yourself as much time and space as needed to process, to cry, to be angry, to grieve.
- Take breaks from the news and social media as needed. As Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who has family in Puerto Rico, Tweeted recently: “You can put down your phone or close your computer and take a walk. That's what I just did. We need you for the long haul. We need you.”
- Make sure your basic needs are attended to. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating regularly? Staying hydrated? Moving your body? A lack of any of these can intensify whatever it is you’re experiencing.
- Call on your support system. Times like these call for human connection. Consider asking a friend to go for a walk, to go to an (uplifting) movie, to cook a delicious meal, or to do a creative or service-oriented project together.
- Share the Disaster Distress Helpline number. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. A 24/7, 365-day-a--year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
- Do something for others. Research how you can volunteer, donate to or otherwise support the work of organizations helping with disaster relief and trauma recovery for those directly affected by tragedy and disaster.
For further exploration:
- You don't have to be at a traumatic event to be affected by it (Popular Science)
- How to cope — and help others — after the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas (Mashable)
- How to cope with tragedy when you have anxiety (Teen Vogue)
- Tips for coping in the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas (The Fix)
- 6 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed by All the Tragedy in the News (Teen Vogue)