Here are some student tips for coping with crisis or tragedy.
Tips for Dealing with Tragedy
- Develop a personal plan to ensure your safety in a similar situation.
- Use reliable sources to keep up-to-date on developments and information.
- Be aware that a range of emotions are normal following tragic events ranging from depression, anxiousness, anger and numbness.
- If you feel depressed, anxious or angry, be sure to be honest and talk to friends, family, ministers or others around you. Don’t internalize and don’t withdraw.
- If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, seek help from your school mental health center.
- Don’t be frightened by traumatic stress reactions. And don’t be surprised if it takes a little time before you start feeling like your old self again.
- Keep your daily life as normal as possible to reduce stress. That means don’t start any new or major projects unless absolutely necessary (you can start your new “diet” next month when you are feeling better).
- Do things that help you feel good and increase your feelings of self-control.
- Stay busy but don’t forget to take time for relaxation and leisure activities.
- Get some exercise, even if it is just a walk in the neighborhood with a family member or friend.
- Be sure to eat properly and regularly even if food doesn’t have its normal appeal. Otherwise your energy level will decrease and your recovery will be slowed.
- Avoid the temptation to “numb out” with drugs and alcohol.
- Limit your intake of caffeine (a stimulant) and sugar, especially if you are having difficulty sleeping.
- If you are having difficulty sleeping (which is a common reaction), don’t lie there tossing and turning. Get up and do something until you are able to fall asleep.
- Be prepared for “trigger” stimuli that may cause a stress reaction (for example, seeing an article about a similar event in the newspaper).
- Work toward eventually accepting the event and coming to peace about its consequences.
- Seek professional counseling if necessary.
Tips on How to Help Your Friend or Loved One
It is typical for people to feel a variety of emotions after a traumatic event. Here are some tips that can help you assist a friend or loved one who is experiencing grief due to a traumatic event.
- Spend time with the person who experienced the trauma. Very often you don’t even have to say much just “being there” for them can be as helpful as anything you might be able to say.
- Encourage the person to talk about her feelings and emotions. But avoid telling the person “Everything will be OK” or “I know how you must feel.” Your role is to be a good listener. You don’t have to fix the situation (make it all better) or offer a rational explanation of why the event happened.
- Be respectful if the person requests some private time. But don’t assume the person wants to be alone just because he doesn’t seek you out first.
- Offer specific help. Avoid saying something vague, such as “How can I help?” Instead, say something such as “Can I help by taking care of the kids tonight?” or “Would it be OK if I brought dinner over tonight?”
- Remember that everyone (men, women and people of all ages) can be affected by a traumatic event.
- Sometimes people in trauma say or do things they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. So don’t take it personally.
- Offer to accompany the individual to any events associated with the trauma (funerals, investigative hearings, court, etc.).