– By John Stiteler (Owner of Total Health Guidance)
The recent school shooting in Parkland, FL may trigger a strong emotional response for many people. Some of the more common reactions include: anxiety, withdrawal, grief, guilt, nightmares, intrusive images, fear, depression, change in appetite, or sleep disturbances. Teachers and parents of school age children may experience these reactions more intensely. Current events may also trigger past traumatic events such as the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Orlando. It is ‘normal’ to have difficulty managing your feelings after major traumatic events. However, if you, your family, or your staff do not deal with the stress, it can be harmful to your mental and physical health. Here are some tips for coping in these difficult times:
- Talk about it. By talking with others about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.
- Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this tough time. If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by phone. If you have any children, encourage them to share their concerns and feelings about the incident with you.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and exercise, and eat properly. If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake, since nicotine and caffeine can also add to your stress.
- Limit exposure to images of the event. Watching or reading news about the incident over and over again will only increase your stress.
- Find time for activities you enjoy. Read a book, go for a walk, catch a movie or do something else you find enjoyable. These healthy activities can help you get your mind off the tragedy and keep the stress in check.
- Take one thing at a time. For people under stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. “Checking off” tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and make things feel less overwhelming.
- Do something positive. Give blood, prepare “care packages” for family of those affected, or volunteer in a rebuilding effort. Helping other people can give you a sense of purpose in a situation that feels ‘out of your control.’
- Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run they generally create additional problems that compound the stress you were already feeling.
Ask for help when you need it. Don’t try to cope alone. If your feelings do not go away or are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function in daily life, talk with a trusted relative, friend, doctor, counselor, or spiritual advisor about getting help. Total Health Guidance has a staff of caring, licensed professionals that are offering free counseling consultations. If you are interested, please call 321.332.6984, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.totalhealthguidance.com