When tragedies such as the shooting in Las Vegas strike, it is only natural for us to be left feeling scared, confused, anxious, sad, vulnerable and left wondering, why? It is especially difficult when our TV screens, tablets and phones are abuzz with images of senseless violence and exposure to such graphic and upsetting images seems unrelenting.  It can feel hopeless.  We immediately react to such events with shock and horror but can oftentimes bury our emotions.  We get caught up in debating the Second Amendment ad nauseam, fixate on the memorializing the victims and wrap ourselves in a blanket of fear, doubt and uncertainly without properly addressing our true emotions. As therapists, we can only hope to use our clinical training to encourage others to allow themselves to deeply feel those emotions and to offer some healthy tips on how best to cope with those feelings. Here are a few suggestions:

Own your emotions

As we are bombarded with such shocking and unfathomable tragedies, we can often feel myriad of emotions: sadness, grief, guilt, hopelessness and fear. Don’t simply label these emotions.  Make them have meaning and existence by writing them down. Reflect on them when possible. Emotions are what make us human.  At our very core, we feel so deeply and passionately about things that affect our lives.  Accepting and embracing our emotions are important.  They can be painful and we may not always like the way they make us feel but it is extremely important not to push them away or engage in unhealthy avoidance behaviors.

Understand what happened, but don’t live in that space

Immersing yourself in every aspect of a tragedy is unhealthy.  This behavior can lead to depression, grief and isolation. Learn only what you need to know to be informed and avoid non-stop news viewing of such events.

Develop meaningful connections

Connect with your community.  Discuss your feelings and listen to those of others. If you feel compelled to do so, find ways that you can make a positive impact. Volunteer, donate blood, make a monetary donation or find another way to honor those lost.

It is important to not allow such tragedies to invade our sense of security or to define our actions and behaviors.  We need to accept, acknowledge and honor our feelings and find healthy ways to cope with them. If you are experiencing feelings of grief, depression, sadness or hopelessness, we can help. Feel free to contact us today for a consultation.

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