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July 7, 2016

Coping with Community Tragedy

Recent events can feel overwhelming.

Our brains and bodies respond automatically to a perceived threat, mobilizing energy to try and fight off the threat or to run away. Some of us will be able to use this energy to find a way to take action in response to these tragedies, and others of us may not. We may feel overwhelmed or we may instead disconnect or feel immobilized. Whatever our response, we need not judge it. Instead, the following steps may support us in moving safely through our automatic responses:

CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY. Find people you’ve identified as empathic, open, and supportive, and talk about what happened. Take part in your community’s rituals, gatherings, and practices.

DISCHARGE ENERGY. Use physical movement to help discharge the heightened feelings you may be experiencing. Take a brisk walk or run or a swim (if this is not a compulsive behavior for you).

NURTURE YOURSELF. Feed yourself as well as you can, get good rest, treat yourself gently. Breathe deeply.

TURN OFF TRIGGERS. Give yourself permission to isolate yourself from conversation, media, or social media that feels unhelpful or that continues to trigger your flight-fight response.

FIND THE BEAUTIFUL. Give yourself permission to notice and enjoy moments of kindness and beauty. 

TAKE ACTION. Find strength in the community, post messages of support and outrage on social media, or contact Congressional, State, and local officials. Attend to and notice what feels right for you. 

Get help. Find hope.