Guidelines for coping with stress during traumatic events

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The bombings in Boston, the plant explosion in Texas and the severe flooding taking hold of the Midwest have forced the nation to confront a wide range of traumatic and stressful events this week. According to the Red Cross, incidents like these require everyone, not just those on the ground in the affected areas but also those watching media outlets in other places, to pay attention to their mental health and to take steps to positively manage stress.

“This is a very upsetting time for Americans, and it’s important for everyone to pay attention to what they’re thinking and feeling and to take care of themselves,” said Meghan Spreer, Communications Director, Kansas Capital Area Chapter. “It’s especially important to take care of the children around you and to reassure them of their safety.”

The American Red Cross has some simple steps everyone can take to help cope with the recent events:

 Stay informed, but limit exposure to media coverage of the events.

 Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest.

 Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions such as anger, frustration and anxiety.

 Stay connected with your family and other support systems. Reach out and accept help from others.

 Encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts. Reassure them about their safety.

 To reach out for free 24/7 counseling or support, contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs’ to 66746.

Children are especially at risk since they may become afraid that a disaster could affect them, or that they or someone in their family may be harmed. It is important to comfort children and talk to them in a calm manner. Their view of the world as a safe and predictable place is temporarily lost during emergency situations. How a parent or other adult reacts around children following a disaster can determine how quickly and completely they recover.

People can find more information on recovering after disaster or emergency on redcross.org.

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