Linda Lewis Griffith

How to cope with tragic events like the Las Vegas shooting

The ghastly events in Las Vegas claimed more casualties than those who were killed or injured. Each of us is also a victim as we grapple with increased anxiety and fear.

One woman I spoke to said, “I’m so anxious now. I can’t help but wonder what I would have done in the same situation. And what if it happened to someone I loved? The thought is more than I can bear.”

Such random, non-sensical tragedies make us feel fragile, realizing that everything can change in a blink. Our sleep might be disrupted by nightmares. We’re distrustful of everyone we meet.

In reality, we’re no less safe after hearing the news than we were just seconds before. Our risk of dying hasn’t measurably increased. Only our uneasiness has gone through the roof.

The truth is, no one is ever completely safe. We all live on a personal precipice that can collapse when we least expect it. For instance, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake can strike tonight while we sleep. Or a drunk driver could T-bone our teenage daughter’s car as she waits at a stoplight on her way to school.

Each of those events is cataclysmic. Our hearts would be forever scarred.

Still, worrying doesn’t protect us or our family. It only wastes precious psychic energy that we need to manage our lives.

Rather than fearing the next disaster, we should accept the fact that it’s on the way. We should do what we can to prepare for future problems. Then savor the tranquility while it’s here.

We can also take preventative actions. By voting for politicians who support gun safety measures and voicing our concerns to our representatives in Congress, we can hopefully decrease senseless gun violence in the future.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.

How to decrease anxiety and fear after a tragedy:

▪  Limit media exposure. News programs intentionally stress gruesome details. Listen long enough to be adequately informed, then silence the device.

▪  Take care of your physical needs. Stress releases hormones that overtax all systems of your body. Get extra sleep. Eat nutritious meals. Avoid excess alcohol.

▪  Quiet overactive thoughts. Anxiety is a result of your brain working overtime. Practice meditation to distance yourself from the mental mayhem. Or pause throughout the day and take long, slow deep breaths.

▪  Go for a walk. You’ll not only enjoy being in nature but your heart and mind will benefit from the exercise.

▪  Take control where you can. Wear a helmet when you ride a bike. Store emergency rations of food and water. If you have guns in your home, keep them in a locked safe, away from anyone who might misuse them.

▪  Say “I love you” often. We never know when our time together will come to an end. Express your deepest feelings to those you hold most dear.

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