THE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO AN ACT OF TERROR AND RECOMMENDED COPING STRATEGIES
The immense trauma caused by acts of terror may have a significant emotional impact on people. Most people will need some time to recover their sense of equilibrium after such a tragic event. Individuals may experience an unusual level of anxiety, especially about their own and their family’s safety.
Although people react in different ways, there is a common theme in that each individual feels overwhelmed by the atrocity and magnitude of the event. Initially, there is the shock and disbelief. Then stronger emotional responses may start to appear. Some of the most common ways emotional distress may appear is through changes in activity, social withdrawal, anger, irritability, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, physical pains, even irritability. To cope with the aftermath of an act of terror, we may need more connections with family, friends, and significant others in our lives.
If you experience fear and a sense of vulnerability, rest assured that this is a normal reaction. You may start questioning the security of public spaces and avoid places that attract crowds. You may also feel concerned that a similar incident could occur again.
Another possible response is fatigue. You may feel exhausted, drained of energy, or you may experience trouble sleeping, or have nightmares about this event. This type of emotional response is also normal and will diminish with time.
Your children may be aware of the incident and feel scared. Their behavior may change because of their response to the event, experiencing a wide range of emotions including anger, fear, grief, and anxiety. Talking to them about the event, about their worries and concern is a critical step in helping them feel safe and develop coping skills. Minimize their exposure to media coverage and monitor their presence on social networks.
Managing your distress in such a situation is difficult, but not impossible. It is easy to become overwhelmed and have a pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting to you. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective about yourself and the world around you.
Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with the stress by eating well-balanced meals, getting plenty of rest, and exercising. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical discomfort.
Remember that grieving, overcoming anxiety and managing your reactions may take time. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and recover. Recognize that you and your children are inherently resilient, that we all have the ability to cope with difficult life experiences.
If you or your family members continue to experience significant distress, difficulty coping caused by the aftermath of such an event, feel free to contact your EFAP.
The Benefits of Your Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
Sometimes just talking to an EFAP professional can help you regain a healthy perspective on the traumatic event you have just witnessed or experienced. Access to the Homewood Human Solutions EFAP is available to you 24/7, 365 days per year.You can reach us anytime by calling our Client Services (Intake) Centres