Managing trauma and finding solid support may not feel easy but it’s something we’re doing collectively and independently. Over the past week, we’ve all been focused on supporting one another following the horrific Boulder shooting at King Soopers. When we go through tragedies like this, it’s natural to feel grief, anger, overwhelm, or stress. It’s also completely normal to feel fearful or concern when violence touches close to home. The first key step toward feeling connected is knowing you are not alone. We are all going through this together.
For Redpoint, it hit particularly close since the location is so near our Longmont outpatient program and our team shops at the King Soopers market for our clients.
The first, perhaps most important step when we are managing trauma, is to breathe and hold space for ourselves. Your feelings are valid. What’s more, there are others feeling exactly the way you are. In addition, it’s natural to feel confused, upset, or despondent when something awful happens. Depending on whether you know someone directly connected to the shooting, or not, the impact is felt. Sometimes, when we don’t know someone directly associated, we minimize our emotions or feelings. We don’t need to do this.
Normalize Mental Health
We may tend to think we need to muscle through or wear a brave face after going through a traumatic situation. But we don’t. In fact, when we talk about our experiences, and share the pain we may be feeling, we tend to feel better. Research shows that problems spoken and shared often feel less overwhelming. This is important when it comes to minimizing stress. Speaking to our feelings is also a direct part of taking care of ourselves. Another powerful component of reducing societal stigma around mental health concerns is pulling back the covers. What is held in isolation may invoke shame or feelings of denial.
Make Room for Boundaries
Practicing self-awareness means also carving out healthy boundaries for our mental health. When it comes to managing trauma, in particular, this might mean avoiding excessive news exposure, talking to people with whom you feel comfortable and safe. It also may mean that we take a mental health day at work or turn off certain notifications we don’t need right now. Whatever it is that you feel helps to preserve a sense of support for ourselves is what we need.
Practice Healthy Self-care
There are lot’s of ways to care for ourselves. It may mean we take a day to rest, we might reach out to others in service to get out of our heads, or we may go for a run to let off steam and get into the moment. Perhaps we take some quiet time to read a book or cuddle with our animals. Whatever self-care you feel is right for you, do it. This is important regardless of a tragedy but when trauma hits, we need the comforts of activities that help us to feel grounded.
Connect with Others and Showing Support
When we are struggling, it can be hard to reach out. However, it is vital that we stay connected to those we love. It may also be important to lean on professional support. This may be a therapist, counselor, or group therapy. It may be inpatient or outpatient care is needed. Don’t hesitate to be an advocate for yourself and others as needed.
If you wish to support someone who is struggling, there are some ways you can do so skillfully.
- Communicate. The best way to connect with someone is to start a dialogue. If you fear someone is really having a hard time, reach out and show them you’re there. Sometimes, that is all we need. You can ask them how they’re feeling, if there’s anything you can do to support them, and you can remind them you are present to share the experience. Communication goes a long way.
- Show empathy. We sometimes hesitate to share feelings if we feel uncomfortable or wrong to have them in the first place. Normalizing others’ feelings is one way to relate to them and make them feel less alone. This may be an opportunity to share how you are feeling or how you went through a painful period. It’s ideal to avoid words or phrases that might seem judgmental and ensure that your friend or family member knows you get it.
- Stay in touch. If you don’t get too far or someone needs more time, come back to them, perhaps later or the next day. Let them know you’re here if they need you.
Managing Trauma Through Professional Support
Ultimately, as noted earlier, if you need professional support, reach out for assistance. The team at Redpoint Center is always here to assist and we can help guide you toward the right services if ours are not a good fit. We are here to help. If there’s anything experience has taught us, it’s that now more than ever, we need each other. Together, we can get through. Sending so much love to you and yours. May we all feel supported.