Self Care and Coping When Tragedies Happen

On this site, in the Solid Blog, on the Life Stuff 101 podcast and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

How do we practice self-care and manage emotionally when there’s so much news in the world of tragic events?

As with so much of mental health, it is valuable to have the understanding that self-care for our overall well-being is necessary during these difficult times.

There can definitely be a mental health impact to learning about, experiencing from afar and thinking about these tragic events.

With so much violence in the world right now, we may collectively be experiencing a level of vicarious trauma.

Vicarious trauma was a term coined for helping professionals who experience burnout or compassion fatigue with repeated and consistent exposure to the experience of trauma of others

With so many of these tragedies and violent events in our consciousness these days, it may be possible that the constant exposure could be extending the phenomena of vicarious trauma to the larger public as well.

Whether there are symptoms of vicarious trauma or a general malaise due to knowing about tragedies, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness can cause symptoms of depression, anxiety and anger.

With these things in mind, understanding yourself and your tendencies can help you cope more effectively.

Those who have previously experienced trauma or lean toward being highly sensitive, anxiety and depression, will likely be more impacted by the knowledge of these kinds of events.

With tragedies happening more frequently in recent times, even from a general perspective, many people are being impacted more regularly by anxiety and fear.

It is important to consider the impact these events have on our collective mental health and for us as individuals to make sure that we protect our individual mental health.

Take the time to process your thoughts and feelings regarding these events, and practice self care.

If there is a feeling of being overwhelmed by all the tragedies in the world, you are not alone.

It is common for people to experience a number of different emotions following traumatic events.

These feelings can include shock, despair, fear, grief, anger, disillusionment, and more.

You might also find that you have trouble concentrating, sleeping, eating or even disturbances to your daily routine.

A self-care practice starts with knowing how these kinds of events impacts you personally and to taking steps to take care of yourself accordingly

Following large impact tragedies, many of us can often feel torn between wanting to stay informed and updated, but it can also be a struggle to process all the constant and incoming information emotionally.

If you’re wondering about how to cope better or to strengthen your ability to adapt well during difficult times, here are some tips for self-care when coping with tragedies

Take a break from consuming the constant stream of news.

Try to consciously limit the amount of news you are consuming. Whether it’s from the social media, internet, television, or newspapers

While getting the news can feel as thought you are being informed of updates, being overexposed to it can actually increase overall stress levels.

It can be challenging to know how to find the right balance, but at the very least, be aware that taking breaks from consuming news (eg – once an hour for a few minutes or limited to 30 minutes a day) will be beneficial.

It’s also helpful to intentionally schedule to do something you enjoy after taking in some news about these types of incidents, such as a hobby, physical activity or watching a funny video online.

Seek support.

Especially if you’re noticing that it’s beginning to interfere with your day-to-day life, do make sure to talk to someone or others you trust and feel safe with.

It can be friends, a partner, family or therapist. It is important to be able to process your feelings and talking about things can help organize thoughts and feelings, that can otherwise stay internalized and potentially impact your mental health.

Connect with others.

You can start by connecting with friends and loved ones.

It can be as simple as reaching out and expressing gratitude for those important people in your life, or scheduling time to get caught up with each other over a meal or a social event.

Alternatively, you can locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by this incident, or have other needs.

Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.

Resist trying to make sense of the violence.

Learning more about what could lead to acts of violence is important in curbing more of them.

But trying to rationalize violence can often lead to inaccurate assumptions.

For example, thinking that certain cultures or groups are “just more violent” can have harmful effects in the way we treat others and move forward from a tragedy.

Resist trying to figure out the “why” of these events and people’s motivations, because it’s unlikely that you’ll ever know what the answer is. There is really just no sense in a lot of these attacks.

Destruction and acts of violence, no matter where they come from, are senseless, and it is difficult to tolerate.

But focusing on the things that are within your control and making a difference in your immediate life can often help to make times like this more tolerable.