Building Resilience Can Help Ease Nerve-Wracking Reality of a Tense World

Marathon bombing memorial at Copley Square,

Marathon bombing memorial at Copley Square, copyright Ted Eytan

Some people say, “I don’t watch the news. It’s too depressing.”

Really, now, is that any way to be an informed citizen who votes for local, state and national leaders? Is that any way to know about a shooting in your community or a threat that might impact you and your family?

Even if you don’t watch, listen to or read much news, troubling events will find you through conversation with friends, family and coworkers. Terrorist attacks, killings done in brutally inhuman ways and broadcast by video, and lone gunman who just go off the deep end and inflict pain and suffering on innocents – yes, all of these senseless tragedies break our hearts and wear on our nervous systems.

To make it even more nerve-wracking, average citizens are asked to be alert and report suspicious activity. That means we’re not really able to completely relax and just go out to shopping malls, sporting events or airports for the cherished goal of just having a good time or going on vacation.

Is this the new normal? It seems to be, at least for now. So it’s just logical to find ways to stay informed about local and world events that impact our lives, while maintaining a sense of stability and peace.

The American Psychological Association suggests developing resilience, which is the ability to adapt to unexpected changes and events, by learning to manage distress and uncertainty. The APA offers these five tips for building resilience:

  1. Take a news break – It’s good to stay informed, especially if you have loved ones who may be near the location of terrorist activity or in any type of dangerous location, but it’s helpful, at times, to stop watching news of troubling events and minimize your stress. Be sensitive to the exposure children may have to the news and be prepared to talk about how or why a traumatic event may have occurred.
  2. Keep things in perspective – Tragic events do occur, but remember they are relatively rare. Remind yourself that extensive safety precautions are in place on the local, national and international levels. Appreciate the good things in life that are a source of well-being.
  3. Have a plan – Knowing that you have an emergency plan in place gives you a sense of control and allows you to be prepared for the unexpected. Decide who to call in an emergency. In case phones go down, designate a meeting place with family, friends and neighbors. Have a list of items you’ll need in an emergency, such as water, foods that won’t spoil, medications and important documents. Make plans for your pets.
  4. Help others – Extend a helping hand to those in difficult situations in your local community or through organizations like the American Red Cross. Connect with those organizations when there isn’t a disaster, because some training is often necessary.
  5. Keep connected – Maintain social networks and activities, both in person and electronically, so you have support and a sense of normalcy in case a disaster or traumatic event does occur.

References:

Romano, David and Thomley, Rebecca, “Building Resilience to Manage Indirect Exposure to Terror,” American Psychological Association, 2015

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