Healthy Responses to Terrorism and Disasters

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Healthy Responses to Terrorism and Disasters

We live in stressful times. Almost daily, it often feels like the media is showing us a new story of profound human suffering, whether it’s due to natural disasters or the violence of other people. In a world where we can be extraordinarily aware of people dying or suffering, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, either through helpless empathy or fear for our own safety.

Many people may shrug off how deeply they may be affected by being surrounded or hearing about events that didn’t happen to them. However, the truth is these can be deeply traumatic, especially for certain people with strong empathic tendencies.

The trait of resilience, or the ability to remain calm and in touch with yourself and your surroundings no matter what, is what is going to help you make it through. Here are ways to cope and respond helpfully when you feel overwhelmed by how it seems the world is falling apart.

Be Prepared:
Disaster, terrorism, and violence are unpredictable. They can and do strike anywhere, at seemingly random moments. This feeling of unpredictability can increase the way it feels traumatizing and frightening. It can be helpful to know what to expect, and how bad news may affect you, so that you will be less likely to be caught off guard.

Some of the common reactions to stressful events include difficulty concentrating and feeling shocked, numb, or overwhelmed. You may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep, and get nightmares when you do. You may feel overwhelmed by upsetting images in your head, and find your moods changing very quickly. Physical symptoms can include headaches, pain in the chest, and skin rashes.

Generally, the closer you are to a situation, there more likely you will experience some of these symptoms, and the stronger they will be. These painful sensations are strongest immediately after the event, and tend to fade within a few weeks, but some traumatic memories may remain with you for much longer.

Routines of Self-Care:
Healing can take time, so go easy on yourself. One good definition of trauma is that is a normal response to abnormal situations. What you are feeling is an understandable reaction to being human in crazy situations. Your fears and anxiety will go down as you practice bringing your attention away from the negative situation exclusively, and to your present situation.

Regular exercise, healthy eating, and going to sleep and waking up around the same time every day can be really important ways to remind yourself that you have value, and set patterns that can treat yourself well. Remember also to make time to do enjoyable things, as a way of helping you relax and find life enjoyable.

Sometimes, it may feel hard to get up in the morning and go through your normal routines, but try to push yourself just a little bit and be patient. Start slow and build up as you grow your ability to go through normal rounteens. This requires building up your self-awareness, so occasionally take stock of your how you’re feeling, and the effect certain activities can have on your mood.

Limit Exposure:
If you find yourself overly sensitive to messages of human suffering, that might be a single it’s time to take a break. It is not hard to mindlessly continue to fill your brain with reminders of the event that affected you so deeply, especially in this day and age when media is so readily available on-demand, all the time. Simply put, you don’t have to know everything about an event, or see or read everything related to it.

Pay attention to how “triggered” you feel, and give yourself a break if you find your anxiety or worry levels increasing. Get away from your television and computer, and find other things to enjoy about your life. This important process of getting in touch with yourself and the present can be one of the main things to lift your spirits.

 
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