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When Upsetting Events Happen, Take Care of Yourself First

When Upsetting Events Happen, Take Care of Yourself First

Unfortunately, it’s happening too often. Three critical, traumatic events incidents in less than 24 hours with graphic pictures and nonstop news coverage splashed across our screens.

While none of us can personally do anything about those horrifying situations, from an emotional health perspective, we can do a lot to take care of ourselves related to the effects we feel, and that’s what is most important.  To prevent those events from dominating our days, and those of our children who are out of school and home, some precautions are helpful.

  1. Avoid most of the news coverage, especially on TV. In other words, don’t keep your TV or radio on non-stop.  The saturation of repeating the details of the events can be harmful and warp our normal perspective.  The vivid images often have more of an effect than we realize and can even linger long after we turn them off.  They tend to burn into our minds and memories in a disproportionate concentration, and can potentially re-traumatize us if we’ve had or witnessed a similar experience.  Even today, nearly every one of us can remember far too many of the images of 9-11.  The same principle applies today.
  2. Shield your children appropriately, depending on their ages, from the constant coverage. They are generally more vulnerable to being traumatized by events because they are not as adept at processing that information in an adult perspective.  As with adults, vivid images can have an even more disturbing effect on children, so limited or no exposure is recommended.  When you realize that some of the images will appear without adequate context, the effect can be even stronger.
  3. If you or your children are disturbed and feeling helpless, talk out your feelings or seek professional counseling. If it’s your children, talk about their feelings and reassure them that this doesn’t happen often and they can feel safe with you.
  4. Do something positive and uplifting today—whatever works for you. That alone can help break the cycle and make us proactive instead of reactive.  We’ve heard it in sports—sometimes the best defense is a good offense.  That often works for us emotionally as well, and taking action can be empowering. Depending on the situation, there may be charitable organizations or crisis responders such as the Red Cross that will benefit from financial donations, or you may decide to take political action. Alternatively, you might try to do something locally that represents your personal values such as volunteering with an organization or for a cause you believe in. Remember, the more you take charge of your day, the more in control you’ll feel.

Finally, if you find the events and coverage getting you down in a more-than-normal way, you might consider talking it out with a professional counselor, trained in dealing with reactions we all have to incidents like these.

You can always call us at Jefferson Center (303-424-0300) or the crisis services line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).  Here also is a link to our Resources page that can help as well:

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