Because life doesn’t exist without loss, it is important to know how you can respond to the tragedies that occur globally and in our backyard. Give yourself permission to grieve. Remember it is normal to be upset and anxious. Tragedies remain with us, but they don’t have to define or derail us. We can find ways to uplift ourselves and our communities in times of chaos.

Accept and Understand Symptoms of Stress:

Stress isn’t an emotional state you need to rush through. Allow yourself and your loved ones space to feel and process difficult, uncomfortable emotions as they occur. These feelings might not look the way you expect them to, and they might manifest differently in our friends and family than they do in us. Be gentle with yourself and others.

Symptoms of stress include: Disbelief and shock, panic attacks, crying episodes, disorientation, difficulty making decisions or concentrating, changes in appetite, insomnia and nightmares, emotional numbing, Irritability and anger, headaches, back pain, and stomach problems. Allowing yourself to address the source of the stress rather than treat the symptoms individually will help your whole body work again in union.

Stay In Touch:

Make time to connect with friends and family, even if it feels too difficult to initially reach out. Write a letter, send a snapchat, or set up a phone call. Check in with each other. Create a space where you can process together.

Care for your Physical and Emotional Needs:

While taking care of your responsibilities and loved ones is important and can be deeply rewarding, it’s vital that you meet your own needs and accept love and support from others. Are you getting enough sleep, exercise, mood-lifting foods in your diet? Take one thing at a time. You don’t need to be as productive, busy, and creative as you are in times of certainty (and you don’t have to shame yourself if your productivity remains the same). We’re all different in how we respond to tragedies. Take time to nourish yourself. Take news breaks, enjoy a walk, journal, watch a funny TV show, or do anything else that replenishes your being.

Embrace Familiarity:

Stick to familiar routines as much as possible, even if you’re displaced or your life is interrupted. Find stability in the instability. Can you keep going to bed at the same time? Can you eat your meals at the same time? Keep the rhythm of your life as much as you can as you process.

Give and Receive Help:

If you are able, help others. Tragedies can ignite outpourings of support in our communities. Sometimes the outpourings are short spurts. Once the collective attention shifts, can you keep helping? Can you give blood, volunteer with an aid group to prepare care packages, or donate to individuals in need or organizations that are helping people on a scale you can’t. Be a helper in what ways you can.

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