Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Devastating fires and floods. Political strife. Racial division. Immigrants and refugees. War. School and workplace violence. The next global, regional or local tragedy -- the world overwhelms these days.
As humans we are wired for empathy, and with the amount of traumatic experiences we are exposed to every day on television and social media it seems like we are unable to take a break from heartbreak and anticipating the next disaster. So, how does one effectively navigate through the traumas?
Firstly be kind, including to yourself. Trauma and fear grow in isolation so reach out to others, it will benefit both them and you. Making a thoughtful "caring contact" outreach every day to let someone know you are thinking of them will buoy spirits and strengths, and it can be as simple as a short text or phone call.
Protect yourself and your loved ones, especially children and adolescents, from the non-stop traumatizing images we see around-the-clock on television and social media. Immersing oneself in the 24/7 coverage has been shown to induce "secondary trauma" -- stress resulting from empathizing with a traumatized or suffering person. Turn the screen off, you will feel much more peaceful.
Make a difference in your own backyard. You may not be able to support disaster recovery and relief efforts across the globe but you can volunteer locally and ease some of the suffering happening right here to in the community.
These are just a few ways to deal with what is happening around us and create a mental health toolbox we can use to our benefit, but sometimes dealing with trauma does take working with a mental health professional. When that is the case, please know that there are many resources in the community and at Mind Springs Health. We are here to help.
President & CEO
Mind Springs Health/West Springs Hospital