18th July 2019

How to cope with feeling shocked by tragedy

How to cope with the affect of tragedies, near or far away.

Tragedies happening around us – near or far away – attacks, murders, terror, hate, fear, helplessness … they all can affect us emotionally. And we need to take care. 

Your daily routine may be ordinary and predictable. Yet on some days you, too, may have the terror and trauma of other people’s lives ringing through your head and heart. You, too, can feel shocked by tragedy around you – far away or near-by.

And you may already have tragedy, sadness and fears of your own – relationships, work, health, grief, finances, society and more. There is only so much we can take.

When other things happen around us, the sense of helplessness, vulnerability, lack of control and anger can grow.

A (semi-)permanent state of feeling scared can develop – in us all.

I live in London and recently caught myself wondering how many people may pass me on a daily basis who carry weapons – knifes to be specific.

We are more on guard, alert and this might tip into an exhausting way of living our lives, as if we are under siege.

And some of us may be just that – under siege, right now – from illness in our own bodies, in our homes, in relationships, in our neighbourhoods, in our country, in the world.

Sometimes we may absorb too much tragedy from the news, conversations, pictures, sounds.

Often unknowingly, stuff goes in, when we are not on guard, when our defences are low, when we are preoccupied, when we are taken by surprise.

The worst thing for me is graphic detail of brutal acts committed against humans and any living thing.

Can news damage your health? How to avoid news anxiety.

Unexpected gruesome detail can be absorbed by our brain, our heart, our senses.

We may feel the brutality committed against others in our own body, while living ordinary moments of our own lives.

Tension in our breathing, in our neck, in our voice, in our thoughts.  We may feel brutalised and feel on guard, while being part of ordinary scenes. It can feel surreal.

Internalising tragedies and terror around us is human and takes energy.

It can re-trigger feelings, thoughts and sensations of our own past traumas.

Absorbing shock, tragedy and terror can be toxic. Some people are like a sponge without knowing it.

If you recognise yourself in any of this, then be aware:

Emotional boundaries and regular cleansing activities or rituals are essential to help you clear out any emotional, mental and spiritual toxicity you may have accumulated from news and those around you.

Whatever you do, it is important you do it with the conscious intention of cleansing, rebalancing your energies, or whatever intention is appropriate for you (including forgiveness, compassion, healing etc).

Why self care is not selfish but essential and how to do it

Your activity can include nature, exercise, creativity, meditation, praying, cooking, music and so much more, whatever works for you.

The intention to replenish our energies and to maintain a peaceful connection to ourselves and life around us, is an important part of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual self care.

Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

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All rights reserved (c) Karin Sieger. My articles and videos are not substitutes for medical advice or therapy.

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