I am feeling sad today as I am confronted by news of another act of violence and suffering at Sandy Hook in the state of Connecticut, USA. Expressions of grief, tributes, words of outrage and anger and numerous photos saturate social media and as a world community we struggle once again to come to terms with this senseless tragedy. How do you try to make sense of this? How does this tragedy impact you? Are you able to acknowledge the tragedy and at the same time, continue to function throughout the day and the days to come, without the emotions you feel (perhaps sadness or anger) having a disabling affect? If your answer is yes, then you can continue to read this blog from the perspective of what to be aware of if you know someone whose emotional reaction to the tragedy has a crippling impact on them. If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you are finding it difficult to contain the emotions you feel, I invite you to read on and use these 4 strategies to help you calm yourself.
1. Avoid media/social media if you are aware that what you are reading and listening to is increasing your emotional distress.
Have a break from your electronic devices and turn your attention to other activities.
2. Do something that soothes you.
Here are some ideas: calming music, candles, spending time with your pet, taking a long walk at a favourite place (a beach, lake, park or outdoor location that has a particularly calming affect), look at some photos, sit quietly and watch nature, draw or colour in, have a bubble bath. I would love to hear other ideas to add to this list.
3. Write down what you are feeling.
You can write it in a special journal or on a piece of paper. Pretend that you are talking to your closest friend and tell them how you feeling, why you are feeling it and write back the response you would expect to hear from your friend. You can keep it and go back to it whenever you feel the need to write down what you are feeling.
4. Try this mindfulness exercise:
Notice your physical sensations, and where in your body they are located.
If you are feeling sad or angry for instance, notice where that feeling is in your body; pretend you are an anthropologist observing a new species:
What does the feeling look like?
– colour? – shape? – size?
– solid and hard or soft and pliable? – any other features?
Try drawing the feeling/s
Remember that you don't have to be an artist, have some fun with your creature.
Play with the creature in your imagination
Can you make the creature smaller?
Focus on the image and pretend that you are changing the lens on your camera so that the creature is moving into the distance and getting smaller
Now let it disappear in a puff of smoke
Now deeply inhale
Now exhale (do this more than once if you need to)
Now notice how you are feeling.
If this exercise has been helpful, practice it whenever you are feeling overwhelmed with the emotion you feel.
If you continue to struggle with feelings of sadness, despair, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Talking to your G.P. and/or a counsellor can give you the additional support you need to help you.
If you would like to speak to Colleen for additional support you can contact her on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.