By Joanne Hird
Special to Horizons
You may be struggling to understand how the shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen.
There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions. We know that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following a traumatic event.
Feelings may include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, and grief. You may have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering simple tasks.
This is common and should pass after a while.
You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday, and it may take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.
It’s especially important as we are heading into midterms, which is already a stressful time of year.
Here are some tips:
- Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. This can be comforting and reassuring. It helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you don’t feel so different or alone.
- Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative outlook. Balance that viewpoint by remembering people and events which are meaningful, comforting, and encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you. It allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.
- Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but limit the amount of news you get from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. Overexposure can actually increase stress. Images are powerful and may reawaken feeling of distress. Schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident. Focus instead on something you enjoy – do something that lifts your spirits.
- Honor your feelings. It’s common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to that of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.
- Take care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, get lots of rest and go to the gym or hike. Avoid alcohol and drugs, they suppress your feelings rather than manage or lessen distress. Get back on healthy routines such as eating at regular times and exercising. Having trouble sleeping? Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
- Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by the incident, or have other needs. Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.
- If you have recently lost friends or family in this or other tragedies. Remember that grief is a long process. This might involve staying at home, or for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. It’s not unusual have many ups and downs, including “survivor guilt” — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.
For many, using these tips is enough to get through the crisis. However, some may get stuck or have difficulty managing reactions.
A professional from our counseling center can assist you in developing strategies for moving forward. Call the Wellness Center at 928.777.6653 for an appointment, it’s free.
Excerpts taken from American Psychological Association’s “Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting.”