As I was brushing my teeth this morning I was thinking about whether and what to post about the attacks in Boston yesterday. Like everyone else, I am dismayed and grieved at the trauma endured by the athletes and their supporters. I can’t help but reflect on the multitude of traumas our people have endured over the last few years.
Is this normal? Have these sorts of incidents increased? What can be made of all this violence, injury and death? I don’t know the answers to these questions. But, I do know that it is normal to feel lots of emotions following tragedies like the one yesterday.
The American Psychological Association offered some tips on how to recognize and cope with traumatic stress. Check out their tips here.
In looking over APA’s info, I was struck by a couple of points:
- People respond to tragedies differently. Some folks might feel nothing, others may cry, still others might have trouble tearing themselves away from news coverage. I notice many folks turning to social media as a way to cope with their own grief and fear. Still others may simply want to retreat and withdraw. No response is right or wrong. Just different.
- Re-establishing routines is important. I’m big into routines, so this tip really rang true for me. Routines can be comforting to all of us – especially kids – so getting back to a normal schedule can go a long way in helping cope with traumatic events. Maybe this means going back to your regular dinnertime, enjoying your favorite TV shows, or getting back to your typical workout schedule. Even if it feels awkward at first, getting back into the swing of your normal routine can help minimize stress, fear, and uncertainty.
- Avoid major life decisions. This tip is new to me, but I think it is pretty interesting. Traumatic events can produce big emotions. Sometimes those emotions are grief and fear, but they can also be passion, anger, or excitement. These emotions can be so intense that we may feel driven to make decisions about our relationships, work, and family lives. APA suggests we avoid these decisions in times of high stress.
For more information about coping with traumatic events, check out the American Psychological Association.