Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.

Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

Here are some tips:

  • Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.
  • Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.
  • Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.
  • Honor your feelings. Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.
  • Take care of yourself. Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  • Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by this incident, or have other needs. Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.
  • If you have recently lost friends or family in this or other tragedies. Remember that grief is a long process. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of such an event will take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including “survivor guilt” — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.

For many people, using the tips and strategies mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the current crisis. At times, however an individual can get stuck or have difficulty managing intense reactions. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

Recovering from such a tragic event may seem difficult to imagine. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead. Taking the steps in this guide can help you cope at this very difficult time.

If you are struggling to understand or to overcome fears, a licensed therapist can help. Schedule an appointment today.

Original article may be found at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx
This tip sheet was made possible with help from the following APA members: Dewey Cornell, PhD, Richard A. Heaps, PhD, Jana Martin, PhD, H. Katherine O’Neill, PhD, Karen Settle, PhD, Peter Sheras, PhD, Phyllis Koch-Sheras, PhD, and members of Division 17.

How to make them change…

In life many of us spend a lot of time trying to get our loved ones to change. Whether it’s trying to get our partners to do what’s best for themselves, or get our kids to sleep through the night… it can seem like an endless struggle.

But what if we changed the way we look at it… maybe it’s not them that need to change, just the situation.

Take the child who comes to their parent’s bed each night. It’s a struggle every night to get a restful night sleep. Yes, many people have said it’s fine to have them cry-it-out, unfortunately that doesn’t work for all parents. But you need sleep, right? Try looking at the situation in a different way. What is it that your child needs? Why are they coming into bed with you every night? Is it something that you can provide to them in a different way- like waking them up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom then taking them back to bed so they are less awake and able to fall aback asleep. Maybe it’s not something you can solve quickly and it’s more effective to change what you do- like moving another bed or beanbag into your bedroom so you can still get some sleep while meeting their needs.

What about your spouse? We know they are unhappy, they complain all the time… or are openly sullen and withdrawn. So we tell them to change it… point out the many things they can do different… support them to do something about it… yet they still stay stuck. Maybe it’s time to see the situation in a different light. What is it that they need? Complaining about their job may be because they miss their family, they miss their freedom, or they’re bored.

Look for ways to fix the things you can, because you can’t change them.

A licensed therapist can help you figure out what is at the root of your struggles. Schedule an appointment today… learn to express your solve your problems in a healthy way.

If you love me, then why do we fight?

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything!”

“Don’t talk back to me!”

 “Don’t raise your voice to me!”

There is a belief that you shouldn’t feel angry with someone you love, but it is irrational to expect two unique human beings (no matter how much they love each other) not to have some conflict. As kids we are all taught that expressing anger is wrong, we are taught that angry feelings aren’t acceptable but this only teaches us to be ashamed of a natural response that can’t be avoided, and ultimately an appropriate expression of anger is not learned.

Kids who are ashamed of their feelings don’t learn how to fully express themselves. These kids grow up to be adults who can’t express their anger. We often struggle in jobs or relationships because people don’t understand what we aren’t communicating.

But anger and love do mix.

It is important to communicate anger in a healthy way to people you love, and it’s important to teach our children to do the same so that they can express their desires and dislikes without emotional chaos.

If you are struggling to be understood, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you communicate more effectively. Schedule an appointment today… learn to express your anger in a healthy way.

What happens to kids when the relationship is over?

Kids don’t handle change well. It’s just a fact.

The more things you change in their daily routine, the more out of sorts they feel. But the ways that they act out can all be traced back to the insecurities that come from not having stability… not knowing what will happen next.

  • They are more argumentative… sometimes it seems like they aren’t being heard, other times they know that there are new boundaries they need to feel out, wither way they are going to push. You have to provide clear and consistent guidelines, in both homes, as well as let them know that you are listening to their needs.
  • They will be more needy… your 3-year-old may decide that she needs to sleep with you every night even though she’s been in her own bed for years, it’s normal. When they change caregivers and environments everything feels like it’s unstable. They reach for you at night so they know you will be there. Getting through this stage can be a challenge, but it’s up to you to decide whether to comfort them and allow it or have them ‘cry-it-out’. Either way, they will be fine.
  • They will pit you against each other… no, they don’t do this on purpose. Kids hear your tone, they see your body language, and they know how you feel. If they come home and tell you about the horrors at daddy’s house, don’t freak out. Most of the time they know that you aren’t that happy with daddy, and they can see that you will want to talk to them, listen to them, and connect with them more if they don’t like him either.
  • Their grades will drop… when kids go through a lot of change they don’t do as well in school for a number of reasons. They don’t have the same consistent help, you are just busier, and they are more scattered from all the chaos. Get them the extra-consistent- help to get through this so it doesn’t have long term effects on their grades.

The most important thing to remember is that you loved your ex at some point. There is good in them. Try to connect to that for your kids. Co-parenting is as important for married parents as it is for separated ones.

If you’re struggling to find that common ground, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you work through it, for your happiness and your kid’s. Schedule an appointment today… Get the advice you need.

Memories of Holidays Past

The holidays can be tough.

Not only do we have chaotic family dinners and crazy in-laws, but the holidays bring up memories of times past…

Weather the loss of a loved one, a job, a pet, a home… the joyous times of Thanksgiving past, the crazy Yuletide events from previous years, or the celebratory twelfth bell ringing from every New Year can be vindictive reminders of what we once had.

How do we get through the holiday season, with rooms full of happy people, when inside we feel like we’re wobbling on the edge of an abyss? But in the end we just do.

We get through the holidays by pushing those feelings away, struggling to just get through the movements and make it to the next day. It’s sad.

It’s sad that we lessen the value of all those moments from our past by pushing them away.

It’s ok to take a second in the grocery store and remember Mom’s stuffing, and how she always added a little too much celery. It’s ok to place a dog bone under the tree for fluffy, and remember how great a dog he was when he played with the kids. It’s ok to take a moment and bless your new home (even if it’s a rental or your aunt’s basement) and be sad that your kids have to share a room this year. Taking time to remember our losses gives us a chance to grieve them. Taking time to morn gives us time to heal.

Taking time gives our memories value.

Take time with your loved ones this holiday season. If the burden becomes too much, seek help from a trained counselor who can guide you through the process of enjoying your present and embracing your past.

Seek support now to avoid issues in the future

ADD/ADHD: Counseling can help your family learn strategies to help you overcome obstacles that burden loved ones such as poor grades, difficulties with discipline, and issues with medication. Support can be sought both in individual sessions and in group session where peer encouragement is available.

 Teen Troubles: Being a teen is synonymous with trouble. Even kids who don’t face some of the tougher issues still can be plagued with the turmoil which surrounds them. This is only accentuated by the technology that makes it easier for kids to speak before they think. It’s important to be familiar with this technology to help kids use it functionally rather than disrupt their lives.

Money Issues: Depression and anxiety accompany money issues; this is a fact. Seeking support can help you prioritize and manage obstacles before they become barriers.

Changes in Family Relationships : When the structure changes it affects the entire family and often results in issues that range from behavioral to academic. Counseling is a compassionate vehicle there to reduce suffering and lasting damage for the entire family.

Parenting Issues: Parenting is never easy. In good times and bad parents struggle with the right way to approach the ever changing needs of their once babies. Individual and group supports can help you meet your obstacles with love and logic.

Anger Management : Anger is a masking emotion, making treating it a task harder than you would think. Individual and group supports are available to help.

Smoking Cessation: We all know that wanting to quit is the first step, but actually doing it is tough. Group or individual support can get you on the right track.

Counseling is available for any issue you may be experiencing in your life, big or small. When all you need is a little extra support, help is just a phone call away