Tips For Coping In The Wake Of The Tragedy In Las Vegas

By Desiree Bowie 10/02/17

Recent tragedies can overwhelm, but being mindful and keeping communication with others can help you stay grounded.

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On Sunday night, a horrendous mass shooting occurred on the Las Vegas strip. 

The tragic loss of lives may have an emotional impact on those who witnessed the events as well as those who are following the news around the world. The ongoing media saturation can trigger those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which may lead to feelings of isolation, depression and the desire to self-medicate. While the idea of escape may sound tempting, please keep in mind that drinking or using offers only temporary relief and frequently leads to more problems. 

If you or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed by recent events, Mental Health America has a variety of services which offer help and support. 

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text MHA to 741-741 or visit mentalhealthamerica.net

The national crisis hotline also offers confidential and free services 24/7/365 Call (775) 784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839-863

In the aftermath of a public tragedy, the news and social media may revolve around pictures or video of the event and explicit details which can be overwhelming. It's important to engage in self-care strategies. Here are a few useful tips from the American Psychological Association:

Talk about it

Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.

Strive for balance

When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and 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 try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.

Honor your feelings

Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.

Take care of yourself

Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some 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 this 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. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of such an event will take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including "survivor's guilt" — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.

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Desiree Bowie is a writer and movie lover from Los Angeles, California. Follow her on Twitter @dangerbowie

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