This past week, we were shocked by the news of a mass shootings. At times it may feel as if we hear about this violence on a daily basis. People are resilient and have the capacity to “bounce back” after such a horrific incident. These events make us question our sense of safety. People who live far away from the affected area with no personal connections to the event may be impacted. This is especially true when the shooting is carried out specifically to harm others. You may be wondering how this shooting could have occurred. It is hard to accept that there may never be an answer to this question.

After an event like this, you may experience a variety of emotions. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may experience some physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering tasks. It’s important to remember that these are common reactions and will disappear over time. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous and scary place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to manage these feelings and return to a sense of order.

So how do we go on living our daily lives when everything seems to be so out of control? Here are some suggestions to strengthen your resilience:

  • Take care of yourself. Engaging in healthy behaviors will help you to cope with excessive stress. Eat balanced meals, get plenty of rest and make sure you include physical activity in your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings instead of helping you manage your stress. Try to get back into the normal routine of your day. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga. It may seem odd to think about taking care of yourself, but you can’t help others if you are not able to recognize and address your own feelings.
  • Pay attention to your emotions. Remember that you may experience a wide range of feelings.
  • Turn off the television! It is important to stay informed, but too much exposure to the event may cause more stress. Limit the amount of time you spend watching the coverage and take a break from the news. You may also need to limit the amount of news you view on the internet and in newspapers. The images can you see can be very powerful and add to the stress you are already experiencing. Find a way to distract yourself from thinking about the event and focus on something you enjoy.
  • Talk about it. Find someone who will listen to your concerns. It helps to talk with others who have a shared experience so you do not feel so alone.
  • Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative outlook on life. Remind yourself of people and events that are meaningful and comforting. Striving for balance allows for a healthier perspective on the world around you.

Recovering from such a tragic event may seem difficult since because they have such negative effects on our emotional well-being.  It is important to take care of ourselves during stressful times and to find ways to relieve the grief we may feel after such a traumatic event. Finding a balance between what stresses us and positive emotions can help restore a balanced perspective on the world around us.

By Maria Farrell, Director of GriefWork: A National Servite Ministry of Compassion