After the Boston Marathon Tragedy – Taking Care Yourself When Traumatic Events Occur
By now, you have probably heard or read many stories about the horrible bombing that occurred at the Boston Marathon. If you are feeling emotionally drained from this event, you are not alone. Tragedies and shocking news events can be stressful for many people, even if they are observing from afar.
Lauren Hale, author of My Postpartum Voice and leader of PPDChat on Twitter, does much to help others with traumatic stress. She shares important coping tips and support with her readers. This help becomes especially important when a shocking news event occurs. Hale says that women with postpartum mental health issues are a vulnerable population. Because their emotions are already taxed by their personal situation, these kinds of events can be overwhelming.
Hale has also experienced the impact of Hurricane Sandy. In this blog post, she described her reaction to the storm a few weeks after it occurred. This devastating storm swept over her current home in Pennsylvania and pounded the New Jersey coastline where she grew up. She personally understands how difficult it can be to live each day with on-going emotional strain.
Tragedies and other shocking events can have a strong effect on anyone dealing with mental illness or other difficult life situations. In today’s age of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s so easy to get bombarded with emotionally-charged images and graphic descriptions.
According to Hale, it’s best to limit exposure and take good care of your emotional needs. Thoughts, worries, and images of the events can become overpowering if you are already struggling to manage your emotions.
If you have a strong reaction and find yourself getting caught up in all the information, take a step back from everything related to the event right away. Get off-line, put down the newspaper, and keep the radio turned away from the news. As Hale says, “play with your kids, get outside, bake, cook, clean, something.”
She also recommends visiting the Distaster Distress website. The helpline is free and confidential for anyone needing help with stress reactions to a trauma. You can also find links near the bottom of the front page to their Facebook page and Twitter account. The rest of the website has many other resources like coping tips and warning signs.
More tips from Lauren Hale:
1. If you are online, don’t click on news links. Some raw videos or images can be disturbing.
2. Reach out and talk to people you trust. Even if you have no personal connection to a particular event, they can be emotionally overwhelming to anyone.
3. Don’t forget to breathe! Deep breaths can be relaxing and you can do them anytime.
4. If being online exposes you to too many triggers, then stay off-line for a while. Find other ways to communicate with loved ones for the moment.
5. Minimize or avoid discussion of these events with children. A simple conversation can be helpful if your family personally knows someone involved in the situation.
Many thanks to Lauren Hale for helping me with this article. If you have any more helpful tips for coping with traumatic events, please add them in the comments.
Krull, E. (2013). After the Boston Marathon Tragedy – Taking Care Yourself When Traumatic Events Occur. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 2, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/family/2013/04/after-the-boston-marathon-tragedy-taking-care-yourself-when-traumatic-events-occur/