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How To Deal With Traumatic Events

When we see traumatic events in the news, it is normal to feel vulnerable and upset.

Whether someone is directly affected by an event or experiences secondhand exposure, acknowledging feelings about these occurrences is important for one’s mental health. The unpredictable nature of events like these is all the more unsettling.

To best prepare for and be able to cope with traumatic events, we can bring some focus to building personal resilience – our ability to recover and move forward from a traumatic event.

When faced with a personally traumatic experience or being exposed to one in the outside world, we can use these experiences to build strength and coping skills.

Here are some ways to build personal resilience:

Take Your Time

It is important to keep in mind that everyone experiences traumatic events in different ways.

There is no such thing as right or wrong feelings or moving through the healing process too fast or too slow.

Remember that everyone processes these events in their own time and in their own way. Be patient with yourself.

Have Hope

Striving for feelings of hope is a valuable way to address traumatic events, knowing that you will find a way to carry on.

Focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on barriers helps propel you forward.

Believing that things can and will get better might sound simplistic, but it is a key to resilience.

Seek Support

Surrounding yourself with a support system is vital during these times.

Identify those in your life you can lean on and talk to about what you are experiencing and feeling.

These can include loved ones like family and friends, support groups or professional counselors. There are many resources available to offer short- and long-term support and care.

Find Joy

Exposure to traumatic events can often make us focus on all that is wrong in the world.

Seek pleasure in small things – a meaningful conversation, an enjoyable meal, a fun hobby – to uplift your mood and spirits.

Spend time doing activities that bring you joy and foster your social support network.

Help Others

Helping others can be a great way to cope with a personal or secondary traumatic occurrence.

Not only can this be emotionally rewarding, but knowing you are making a difference can help in the coping and healing process.

Volunteering can be a positive distraction from negative and stressful feelings.

While the world will continue to throw unexpected traumatic events our way, we can all draw our attention to building our own personal resiliency and strengthening our ability to cope.

To achieve this, we must be purposeful in building these skills before the next event strikes in our own lives or in the news.

The good news is that it can be done.

Becky Stoll is ‎Vice President of Crisis & Disaster Management at Centerstone.

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