resilience

Understanding And Developing Emotional Resilience

When challenges or problems arise that shake you to your core, how do you respond?

Your response to struggles is a direct reflection of your emotional resilience. Let’s talk more about emotional resilience and how you can develop that skill!

What Is Emotional Resilience?

Emotional resilience, also called emotional agility, is the ability to bounce back emotionally from stressful situations. It’s when you can calm your frantic mind after encountering a negative experience. 

Being emotionally resilient means you can cope or deal with distress and move forward. To put it simply, emotional resilience is the ability to cope with something healthily and constructively.

Life can be unpredictable. One second everything is going right, and then the next moment, your world is turned upside down. When things get turned upside down, we have two choices – to accept defeat or rise above. 

Rising above the rapidly shifting world requires energy and strength from emotional resilience. People with stronger emotional resilience can handle these stresses more effectively and calmly. They are also able to manage crises more easily. 

The good news is emotional resilience is not an innate talent or extraordinary ability. Everyone can be resilient! And, there are exercises you can use to strengthen your emotional resilience skills.

What Resilience Isn't

Having emotional resilience doesn’t mean that we won’t experience difficulty or distress. In fact, people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives commonly experience emotional pain and stress. But it’s that pain and stress ultimately strengthen your resilience. 

People also can confuse resilience with “being tough” or “toughing it out.” But resilience is not about being tough or not feeling emotions. Being resilient means that you can healthily cope with your emotions.

The road to resilience can involve emotional distress. Like building a muscle, increasing resilience takes time and intentionality. But on this journey, we can rise above the situation through moments of heartbreak, stress, and frustration, like a phoenix from the ashes. 

Discover Your Resiliency Level

The resilience test is a series of 14 statements. Each statement encourages you to reflect on how your childhood circumstances developed your resilience. 

This test is designed to help you see a clearer picture of your childhood experiences and their impact on your life. It is through this that all can learn to see the hope of God’s faithfulness. Resilience is not just stumbled upon. It is forged in the trials and tribulations of life, causing us to become mature and complete (James 1:3-4).

Let’s take a moment to understand where this deep-seated resilience comes from in our life.

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The Characteristics of Resilience

Resilience is a skill that can be developed over time. Here are some characteristics of people who have strong coping skills and resilience. You can develop these characteristics as you strengthen your resilience.

  • A sense of control
  • Optimism, positivity, or a feeling of hope
  • Emotional awareness and intelligence
  • Social connection and support
  • Perseverance

How To Build Emotional Resilience

Taking steps to build your emotional resilience can help you deal with pressure and reduce the impact that stress has on your life. Resilience isn’t a personality trait – it’s something that we can all take steps to achieve.

 

1. Cultivate Optimism

Specifically, improving your emotional resilience requires you to be a more optimistic thinker.

 

2. Focus on Self-Care

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities and responsibilities of life and forget about yourself. But when your goal is to building resilience, self-care is essential. Whether you choose to journal, go for walks, or another self-care habit, taking time to care for yourself will help.

 

3. Get Inspired By Others

Whether you’re working through injury recovery, struggling with depression, mourning a lost loved one, or hitting speed bumps in your career, there’s an inspiring and helpful story out there from someone else who’s been through it and bounced back (just like you will).

 

4. Have Grace

Learning to have grace and be kinder to yourself is crucial. With grace and kindness, you can help control the amount of pressure you feel in different situations and feel less stressed.

 

5. Learn From Failure

Failing is a totally normal part of life. The next time you fail, ask yourself, “What is this experience trying to teach me and how can I learn from it so that I become a stronger person?”

 

6. Build your support network

Remember that whatever you’re going through that’s causing you stress, you don’t have to cope with it alone. Your family and friends can be there to help when you face stressful situations. 

 

7. Ask For Help

Getting help when you need it is crucial in building your resilience. For many people, using their own resources and the kinds of strategies listed above may be enough for building their resilience. But at times, you might get stuck or have difficulty making progress on the road to resilience.

 

Shelly Pinomaki, the founder of Seeking Hope, offers emotional first aid coaching in person and online. Click here to learn more!

 

The important thing is to remember you’re not alone on this journey! None of us can control all of our circumstances. But we can grow by focusing on the aspects of life’s challenges that we can manage with the support of loved ones and trusted experts.


Journaling For Emotional First Aid

Are you feeling sad? Angry? Happy? Excited? Bored? Writing down what’s going on in your life right now can change your mood and even improve your health.

We all have a constant flow of thoughts that run through our minds. And without a proper way to release emotions, thoughts, and feelings, it can lead to emotional turmoil. 

Journaling is one of the most recommended and effective coping mechanisms for managing your emotional health.

 

Emotional Health Benefits From Journaling 

Journaling is a great way to learn more about yourself, your emotions, and your resilience. Writing out your thoughts and experiences can help heal your past trauma. It can help you make connections and find conclusions that you otherwise might not have seen.

Journal entries can help you reflect on how you felt during different periods of time or different phases of your condition. It can help you:

  • Manage anxiety
  • Reduce stress
  • Cope with depression

 

How to Start A Journal For Your Emotional Health

Getting into the habit of journaling is the first step. Here are some tips for starting your emotional journaling journey.

  1. Time Yourself. A good way to start journaling is by setting a timer of 5 or 10 minutes to get your thoughts down on paper. That helps the journaling process feel quick and not like a huge, time-consuming burden. 
  2. Use Paper. It is possible to journal on your laptop or phone, but it’s best to avoid screens and write in a notebook instead. 
  3. Date Your Entries. Dating your entries helps you when you look back and reflect on previous entries. You’ll be able to see what’s been happening and how you’ve felt at different times in your life. 
  4. Be Honest. Your journal is yours. Be honest in what you write and how you’re feeling. Your honesty will help.  
  5. Re-read Your Writing. Each time you pick up your pen to write your entry, you’re providing useful information to understand yourself and your emotions better. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your journal entries and re-read them. They’ll give you lots of insight.

 

Questions To Ask When Journaling

In your journaling for emotional health, it’s important to ask yourself questions. It is answering questions that increase your understanding of what happened. Not just the ‘why,’ but bigger questions like ‘how’ or ‘with what result.’ 

Here is are some questions you could answer in your next journaling session. Answering them truthfully could give you deeper insight into what exactly is going on. 

  • What happened or what was said, exactly? 
  • When did this occur? 
  • If a large amount of time has passed, why are you now deciding to deal with/release it?
  • What was your initial response to the event? 
  • What emotions did you feel?
  • What were your exact thoughts when it happened?
  • Has this happened more than once? If so, what was different this time?
  • How do you feel at this very moment?
  • Do you feel loved? If so, why? If not, why?

 

There is no right way to go about journaling, so as you begin this journey, do whatever works best for you!

By taking the first step to write down your thoughts and feelings, you can focus on the details you may have otherwise missed. Through journaling, you have to listen rather than avoid your most intense feelings.

 

I can’t wait to hear about the breakthroughs you have with your journaling!


How To Emotionally Prepare For The 2020 Election

Are you feeling stress from the current election cycle? A new survey shows that you are not alone. 

“We’re seeing that it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or Republican,” according to Lynn Bufka, Ph.D., for the American Psychological Association. “Across party lines, those registered as Democrats and Republicans are statistically equally likely to say the election is a significant source of stress.” 

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we’re all exhausted by the constant news updates. It feels impossible to keep up. But we do our best. We still show up, listen, learn, check facts, and then make informed decisions about our country’s current and future direction.

 Along with the news, there is something else that we need to focus on during this election season – our emotional health. We can’t forget about our need for rest, healing, and peace.

Here are a few suggestions to protect our emotional health during this time of stress, fear, and anxiety. These are practices we can embrace to help keep us calm and emotionally healthy during the election season.

 

Leading Up to the Election

Create A Daily News Routine

With political updates on social media and 24-hour news coverage, it’s important to plan our content consumption. 

Instead of watching or listening to coverage throughout your day, set aside a time block for catching up. Your “catch up” time could be in the morning at the start of your day or in the evening when you wind down, whatever works best for your schedule. 

Once you know the time you’re watching the news, you need to pick your sources. Select your news sources instead of bouncing around on the TV or scrolling through Twitter mindlessly. Find a few outlets you trust, and balance them with a couple of sources that offer alternating opinions. After you’ve caught up, turn it off. 

 

Have An Emotional First Aid Plan For Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations during elections are inevitable. The most important thing is that we take care of ourselves afterward. We recommend using a breathing app after engaging in conversations. Other resources include an emotional first aid coaching call or getting outside for a walk and fresh air. 

Whatever you do, don’t bottle up your emotions or shame yourself for getting worked up. Rather than suppressing your feelings, nurture them. Breathe. Drink a glass of water. Allow yourself to rest.

When having these conversations, know your points, and practice active listening. If the conversation starts to feel combative, consider taking a break to regain composure. Healthy dialogue can definitely be passionate, but divisive arguments don’t inspire progress and change. 

 

Set Boundaries With Social Media

Brace yourself, social media may become a dumpster fire of emotions, opinions, and fake news as the election gets closer.

Just like the need to create a daily news routine, we need some boundaries for social media during this season. You could delete the apps from your phone, or only designate specific times to check them. While social media can connect us virtually, our time may be better spent investing in real-life conversations.

 

On Election Day

Start Election Day With Self-care

Election Day can feel overwhelming and stressful, so it’s even more important to put a self-care plan in place. On the day of the election, start with slowness, gratitude, and peace. Your morning could begin with journaling, a short meditation, or a morning walk. 

 

Set Boundaries With Family & Friends

Create boundaries for what you will do, how you will talk, and what you need for your emotional health today. Having these boundaries means creating space to celebrate, mourn, and process feelings as needed. 

There are many opportunities to dialogue with those who hold differing views before November 3. But on election day, it’s best to channel your beliefs and ideas into your vote and your emotional self-care. 

 

Allow Yourself To Feel Your Emotions

And finally, the election results are in. There are many politicians on the ballot, so we can expect to feel many emotions, from joy to grief to exhaustion. 

All of these feelings are natural and to be expected, and most of all, valid. Accept the feelings you have, and let yourself truly feel them. Let the processing emotions physically manifest and move through our bodies: tears, exercise, creative projects, and fresh air can all help with this. 

 

After the Election

Give Yourself Room To Process

After the election, we’re all going to have a lot to process. We can’t go into the election, knowing what will happen. But we can control how we respond when the results come in. 

Carve out more space for emotional first aid and self-care. Consider taking extended breaks from the news and social media. It is okay to take a break, retreat to nature, and spend a few days processing with friends. To avoid political fatigue, we need moments to step away and breathe. 

In caring for yourself, also consider loved ones, their feelings, and how you can best support them in their processing. After the election, it’s crucial to remember that we are all experiencing waves of emotions, and the results of the election affect people differently. 

 

Get Back To Work 

Remind yourself that life will go on. Our political system and various government branches mean that we should expect a significant degree of stability immediately after an election.

My prayer is that we embrace emotional first-aid practices to keep us healthy, balanced, so then we can get back to work. 

The most important thing we can do after the election is to stay engaged and hold our leaders accountable. Even if your party won or the vote went the way you hoped, it’s up to us to ensure that promises are kept, and action is taken.

Election day is not the ending; it’s just the beginning. 


Understanding Trauma, Big & Small

Trauma. It’s a word we’ve all heard, and have an idea of what it means. 

But for people who’ve experienced trauma or have loved ones who have, it’s essential to know the true definition and its implications.

 

What Is Emotional Trauma?

Psychology Today defines trauma as “a deeply disturbing event that infringes upon an individual’s sense of control and may reduce their capacity to integrate the situation or circumstances into their current reality.” 

Emotional trauma results from extraordinarily stressful events that shatter our sense of security and make us feel helpless in a dangerous world. 

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety. But any situation that creates feelings of overwhelm or isolation can result in emotional trauma. 

With trauma, it’s not the objective circumstances, but your subjective emotional experience. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you will be traumatized from that event.

Emotional trauma can come from overtly distressing events like combat, natural disasters, or abuse. However, trauma can also come from less obvious events. These can be categorized as different types of trauma – big T and little t. 

 

Big “T” Trauma

Big “T” trauma is what most people think of when they hear the word trauma. 

Psychology Today defines big “T” trauma as “an extraordinary and significant event that leaves the individual feeling powerless and possessing little control in their environment.” 

 

These big “T” traumas are easily identified, like:

  • Natural disasters or catastrophic events
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Combat or war
  • Car or plane accident

 

Small “t” Trauma

Small “t” traumas are “events that exceed our capacity to cope and cause a disruption in emotional functioning,” according to Psychology Today. 

While these events aren’t inherently life-threatening, they can cause people to feel helpless in their circumstances. The accumulation of small “t” traumatic events can create similar traumatic responses to Big “T” trauma.

 

Examples of small “t” traumas include:

  • Conflict with family members
  • Infidelity or divorce
  • Conflict with a boss or coworker
  • A sudden or extended relocation or move
  • Planning a wedding 
  • Being laid off
  • Starting a new job
  • Having or adopting a child
  • Financial or legal worries

 

One little “t” trauma may not receive a PTSD diagnosis. However, studies have also shown that repeated exposure to little “t” traumas can cause more emotional harm than exposure to a single big “T” traumatic event. 

 

Impacts of Trauma

Trauma impacts everyone differently. Based on each person’s past experiences, beliefs, expectations, level of resilience, and ability to process the experience, trauma can manifest differently. 

Although each person who goes through trauma responds differently, there are common trauma symptoms, including:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma with nightmares or flashbacks
  • Powerful emotions and reactions
  • Feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, and numbness
  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the event
  • Changes in how you view the world, people around you, and yourself
  • A hyperactive nervous system, and a being on guard or seeing danger everywhere

 

If you’re experiencing trauma symptoms, know that there is nothing wrong with how you’re feeling! Many of the symptoms are your body and brain’s natural, healthy reaction to the trauma. 

Experiencing these symptoms for a short time is normal and healthy, but severe symptoms lasting for several months or longer are often categorized as PTSD. It’s important to be aware of your symptoms and how long they are lasting.

 

The Hope After Emotional Trauma

Trauma may have touched your life or the life of someone you love, and you’re feeling helpless, trying to process it. But you don’t have to suffer in silence! 

Treatments like therapy and medication, along with emotional support can help throughout recovery. Each treatment is different, but help survivors recall the memory of the trauma and address the memories, thoughts, and feelings.

At Seeking Hope, we have the unique privilege of training people to support victims on what is possibly the worst day of their lives. We’re here to help you learn how to rebuild – physically and emotionally, with online training and virtual emotional first aid coaching

There is no quick fix, and there are no “cures” for trauma. Some people successfully eradicate the impact of the traumatic memory on their lives, and others find significant improvement in their quality of life. 

Regardless, when trauma is on the table, avoidance does not work. Instead, the best way out is always through.

Navigating emotional trauma can be a process, and each person’s experience will be different. Take time to find coping methods, know that emotions are rarely linear, and be patient with yourself and your own unique experience.


Managing The Emotional Impact Of A Layoff

For over 33 million Americans who’ve filed for unemployment since mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic’s emotional stress includes dealing with the emotional trauma of job loss.

Being laid off can be an overwhelming, emotional, and stressful experience. For some people, a layoff could be a welcome relief from a demanding job or an opportunity for moving on in their life. But for most, a job loss carries a significant emotional impact.

Emotional Impact Of Job Loss

Unfortunately for many, losing their job may feel like the end of the world. Although millions of Americans are going through the same thing, losing a job often feels personal.

When you lose your job, do you feel like your life is still meaningful? Many individuals feel as though their success and worth are measured by the career they have. So when they lose a job, it’s so much more than losing income. Job loss also means losing a routine, a sense of regularity, relationships, and a purpose.

Because of this connection between self-worth and work, it’s common for people who’ve lost their jobs to experience emotional stress. Often, people who have lost their jobs blame themselves and wonder what they did wrong. They may also feel shame for not being able to provide and support the people in their lives.

These feelings are all common, natural, and completely okay to feel. But no matter how bleak things feel, there is hope. With time and the right coping techniques, you can ease your stress and anxiety, and move on with your working life.

 

Coping Strategies After Job Loss

Going through a layoff or job loss is an emotional experience, but there are coping strategies to survive the trauma and plan to move forward.

 

Address Feelings First During Layoffs

Layoffs are painful, and the experience can leave you feeling disoriented about your career and your future. Feelings of shame, rejection, sadness, and fear are common. It’s essential to address the emotions and identify them. Acknowledging your feelings and then challenging your negative thoughts will help you cope and move on.

 

Recreate Daily Routines

After losing a job, take time to recreate the daily patterns that you experienced before the layoff. Wake up at your usual time, get out of bed, and start your morning routine. The sooner you can recreate your prior regular patterns, the better your mental health will be. 

 

Focus On What You Can Control

Refocus from what is out of your control to what is in your control after losing a job. So, while you may no longer have control over your income, you have control over your budget. Make a short-term plan to cover your housing, food, bills, health, and other essential needs. Know who to contact to ease financial stress and emotional stress. 

 

Reach Out To The Right People

Sometimes, it can be helpful to bring a neutral third party, such as a therapist or emotional first aid coach, to talk through personal challenges. A neutral third party who is familiar with emotional trauma and stress may be able to guide you through your own experience.

 

Shelly Pinomaki, the founder of Seeking Hope, offers emotional first aid coaching in person and online. Click here to learn more! 

 

Stop The Spiral Of Self-doubt

A layoff can be isolating, especially if you had been sheltering in place and working remotely. Remember that you’re far from alone, and most people experience employment gaps at some point. 

One study found that 40% of American workers have been terminated at least once. You’re not alone in what you’re feeling or experiencing

So reach out to your network and talk. Look for ways to provide value, to solve problems. The refocused mindest can set you on a positive cycle rather than a vicious and negative spiral of self-doubt.

 

Look Ahead

There may come a time where it’s helpful to think about the long-term. For so many people, these trying experiences contain growth opportunities. It’s not comforting when you’re in the middle of a personal crisis, but it’s true, and there are opportunities in every disappointment.

 

When you’ve worked through handling the immediate impact of losing your job, you may be able to take a step back and reconsider the next phase in your career.

 

Sources

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/smarter-living/coronavirus-laid-off-career-advice.html 

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/job-loss-and-unemployment-stress.htm


Managing Anxiety During Community Reopening

With so many difficult decisions to make, here are eight strategies to manage anxiety in the new normal.

 

When COVID-19 lockdowns began, it felt, for many people, unfathomable to stay home nearly 24/7. But for many, it now feels equally strange—and nerve-wracking—to do anything else after months cocooned inside. Psychologists have dubbed the phenomenon “re-entry anxiety.”

 

As society reopens, not everyone is ready. Millions of people face new and difficult decisions about staying safe. Is day camp too risky? Can we visit our grandparents? Should our teenagers be trusted to socialize safely? Will the schools return in the fall? Will jobs come back?

 

Many are struggling to manage their anxiety with no clear road map and so many difficult and confusing choices to make. Try these eight strategies to manage anxiety and relax your mind during the reopening process. 

 

1. Start Small

“Exposure therapy” is safely confronting sources of fear, and it’s the gold-standard treatment for many fear and anxiety disorders. The same tactic may help with anxiety as communities reopen.

 

2. Recognize Your Emotions

peace with emotional self care

When you feel anxious, recognize it. Tell yourself, “that’s my anxiety.” Just putting a label on our feelings helps reduce their power over us.

 

3. Focus On What You Can Control

When you feel anxious, take a minute to examine the things you have control over. While we can’t prevent a storm, we can prepare for it. We can’t control the world and other’s actions, but we can control our reactions. 

 

4. Be Flexible

Some days may feel better than others. After reopening, some days may not go the way we expect them to go. We may have to wait in line, and things may take longer than expected. Flexibility will help you navigate those challenges and changes. 

 

5. Practice Gratitude

Focusing on the positives is a powerful response to anxiety. Expressing gratitude helps keep you in a positive mindset and connect with others. Say a simple, heartfelt thank-you, or make a list of what you’re grateful for. 

 

6. Take A Breath

Breath in and out. These deep breaths help our bodies calm down and refocus. With breathing exercises, we don’t need to worry about counting out a certain number of breaths. Instead, focus on evenly inhaling and exhaling. This will help slow down and re-center your mind.

7. Set Expectations in The Morning

Anxiety often begins even before we open our eyes in the morning. As the day begins, we can feel like victims of circumstance and dwell on potential problems and feared failures. Decide first thing in the morning what kind of day it will be. What quality of thoughts will you cultivate? How will you find joy? Who will you love?

 

8. Take Breaks

Turn off the noise. Turn off the news, unplug from social media, go offline, and don’t feel guilty about it. While we want to stay informed, there is also an overwhelming amount of information, some of which aren’t accurate. Social media and news can cause unnecessary and avoidable anxiety. If your life starts to feel like a record on replay, give yourself permission to switch gears and focus on something completely different.

 

9. Seek Help

conversation about emotional trauma

If your anxiety seems overwhelming — if you’re having trouble sleeping, eating, or interacting in the ways you usually would — get help. Let your family and friends know if you feel like you’re struggling.

 

You might find Seeking Hope’s emotional first aid telecoaching useful. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help during this stressful time! With empathy, understanding, and emotional first aid, we will make it through this together.

 

Anxiety is common, but it doesn’t have to be a part of your new normal. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can.


Emotional Responses To Grief After a Loss by Suicide

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is thinking about hurting themselves, call the free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

Grief is overwhelming at best, no matter the cause of death, but a loss by suicide is particularly complicated. 

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates for adults in the United States are on the rise. Since 1999, suicide rates in 25 states increased by more than 30%. In the US, suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016.

Suicide cuts across sex, age, and economic barriers. People of all ages complete suicide; men and women as well as young children. Sadly, no one is immune to this tragedy.

So how do you come to terms with the suicide of someone you know and love?

alone with emotional trauma

Asking The Question Why

Why would anyone willingly cause his or her death? It’s a tough question to ask.

Each suicide is individual, regardless of the generalized “why.” There may be no way you’ll completely understand the suicide victim’s thought process. No matter how much you search for a reason, you may not be able to answer the question “why.”

However, mental health professionals generally agree that people who took their own lives felt trapped by what they saw as hopeless. Whatever the reality, they felt isolated and cut off from life and friendships. Even if no physical illness was present, suicide victims felt intense pain, anguish, and hopelessness. 

John Newer, the author of After Suicide, says that they “probably weren’t choosing death as much as choosing to end this unbearable pain.”

Understanding and Preparing For Emotional Responses

Each suicide is individual, and so is the reaction, healing, and coping process. Whatever your response is, it is okay, it is healthy, and it is all part of the healing process.

Initial Shock

Shock is the first reaction to a death. You may feel numb and unable to follow a normal daily routine. This shock can be healthy, protecting you from the initial pain of the loss, and it may help you get through funeral arrangements and services. It may last a few days or go on for several weeks. Take some time to be alone, if that is what you want, but it is also essential to be with other people and to return to your routine.

After the initial shock, you may feel angry, guilty, and of course, sad. These feelings may overwhelm you all at once, or they may surface in future weeks, months, and years. 

 

The following feelings are normal and can vary throughout the healing process. Try to understand and accept what you are feeling. 

Guilt

prayer emotional self care

The most common feeling loved ones express after losing someone to suicide is remorse.

“Was there something I could have done to prevent this?” 

Professionals call this survivor’s guilt. While it’s a typical response, those who experience it must work through it in their own time in their way. It’s important to recognize that no one has complete control over another person’s actions. 

Shame

How many of us have heard people whispering about suicide, fearful of the reactions of those around us? 

Suicide still carries an enormously heavy stigma in many circles.  Finding the right people in your support network who are able to help you experience your loss is important. Sometimes, this may mean seeking professional help in order to help you cope with your loss.

 

Anger

Feelings like these are normal, yet they’re especially difficult to contend with if you’re grieving a loss related to a loved one’s suicide. Don’t try to deny or hide anger. It is possible to both be angry with someone and to still hold them dear in your heart. Sometimes you need to feel angry before you can accept the reality of the loss.

 

Relief

For many, the weeks and months, and even years leading up to the death by suicide have been a rollercoaster of emotion. 

If you were closely involved with the deceased, their pain and suffering could have become an emotional drain. Now you may be feeling a sense of relief that you don’t have to worry anymore or even relief that the deceased’s pain has finally ended. 

A sense of relief when a difficult situation ends is normal. When the end is an unhappy one, the relief can still be there, but now it is colored with guilt.

Remember, don’t expect perfection; accept your relief, and don’t let it grow to inappropriate guilt. Sadly, these feelings often cycle back to guilt or shame.

While it may feel wrong to be relieved, it’s perfectly normal to grapple with these feelings.

 

Looking Ahead

talk through emotional trauma

There will be times when these feelings will surface very strongly. Especially in the first year, you’ll need to decide if you want to maintain traditions or create new traditions to ease painful memories. 

On the anniversary of the death, you may want to be alone, attend church, or observe the day in a manner that means something special to you. Or you may prefer to spend that time with someone close to you or make plans for a family gathering. 

You can’t avoid these periods of sadness, but try to prepare for the feelings so they will not be overwhelming. Sometimes, your loneliness and sadness may come back for no reason; be prepared to face this, too.

 

Moving Forward, One Step at a Time

Your grief and sadness will eventually subside, and you’ll be able to pick up the pieces of your life and rebuild. You will never “get over” the loss you’ve experienced, but you can “get through” it. This loss has changed you, but you can learn how to survive and grow from this challenge. 

There’s no map to get back to the living; no one size fits all approach. You build your path to healing as you go, putting one foot in front of the other. 

Whatever you do, do not travel this path of healing alone. 

Ask for help from friends or counseling services if you need them. You can’t expect to forget, but you’ll be able to cope.

 

Resources


5 Steps to Improve Your Non-Verbal Communication Skills

A lot can be said without words in a face-to-face conversation. 

We’ve all heard the statistics several times before: body language accounts for more than 50% of our communication.

Every day we respond to thousands of nonverbal cues and behaviors, including postures, facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice. Often, our non-verbal communication speaks loudest in our conversations. 

These non-verbal cues play a huge role in how our words and intentions are interpreted. A wealth of emotions can be conveyed with a look, a sigh, a smile or a tilt of the head. Excellent non-verbal skills can help show your support by expressing you genuinely care and are truly hearing what someone has to say.

To show support for someone after they’ve experienced a crisis, it’s crucial to be aware of their nonverbal cues, as well as our own

 

Understanding Types of Nonverbal Communication

Forms of nonverbal communication are many and varied and can provide extensive insight into a person’s thoughts and/or feelings. 

  • Gestures include moving the head or limbs.
  • Posture is the way that you sit or stand and how open your body is to others.
  • Eye contact and movements are the direction and focus of a person’s eyes.
  • Tone of voice is the range of pitch that may communicate something other than the words being spoken. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.
  • Facial expressions refer to any movement and changes of the facial composition.

 

The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication is a powerful tool that can help us connect positively and reinforce mutual understanding and respect. 

What a person actually says along with their non-verbal communications can show a great deal more about what that person is really trying to say. During your next face-to-face conversation dealing with trauma or a crisis, keep these five tips in mind:

1. Maintain comfortable eye contact.

Don’t avoid eye contact, but do avoid staring. It’s important to meet someone’s gaze. It shows you are interested and that your focus is on them – quite literally!

2. Keep your body position open.

Avoid crossing your arms over your body – it may appear defensive. When your body position is open, it conveys that you are open to listening.

 

3. Work on your posture

Parents used to emphasize the need to stand up straight and avoid slouching in a chair. As it turns out, they were giving you your first lesson in non-verbal communication. 

 

Posture is a non-verbal indicator of confidence level. Sit up straight. Don’t slump; it conveys disinterest and inattention. Leaning back, or rocking back and forth in your chair says you’re bored. Instead, lean forward when listening to someone speaks, which shows active interest in both the person and conversation.

 

4. Sit down, even if the person is standing

Being on the same level as someone appears less threatening and can make them feel more comfortable while avoiding feelings of tension or nervousness when having personal conversations.

 

5. Question yourself

Throughout the conversation, monitor your progress. Ask yourself: How was I perceived? Could I do something differently? Were people really interested and paying attention to what I was saying? Did I listen well to others? 

 

As you answer these questions, your self-awareness of your non-verbal communication will increase.

 

Sometimes it’s not about what you say, but what you do. When used together, these non-verbal behaviors can improve your communication skills, so you can provide support with your words as well as your actions. 

 

Sources

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships-communication/nonverbal-communication.htm
https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/nonverbal-communication 


7 Emotional Coping Strategies for COVID-19

As I’m writing to you, humanity is in uncharted waters.

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused stress, fear, and anxiety and forced us to change our daily lives. Feelings of fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and generate strong emotions. 

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.

Reactions during an outbreak like COVID-19 can look like:

  • Fear and worry for yourself and your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

It’s natural for stress that can lead to burnout or emotional trauma. But recognizing signs of stress and using coping techniques can help. Developing coping strategies will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

 

To cope with stress, try implementing these 7 strategies:

 

1. Take Care of Your Body

Our emotions live in our bodies, so take good care of yours! Here are some important ways to look after your body: 

 

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule—try to go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time
  • Work towards maintaining proper nutrition and regular meals
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Get some exercise

 

2. Maintain Social Connections

Social connection is good for us too! Maintain social distance, but stay in touch with friends, or spend time with your four-legged friends. Some snuggle time with your pets can make a tough day a lot easier. You might even try writing letters to stay in touch with friends during social distancing!

 

3. Develop A Routine

Maintain a schedule for meals, classes or work, and relaxation time. Having a routine helps us contain emotions and feel a sense of control. 

4. Maintain Perspective 

While this is a huge event for everyone, remind yourself of what’s good in your life. Maintain your perspective by refocusing on what’s important: health, friends, being able to continue towards your degree, religion, and spirituality. 

 

5. Acknowledge Your Experience 

Consider keeping a journal about what this experience is like for you. But be sure to end your daily entry with three good things about the day, however small, to help keep your spirits up. 

 

6. Shift Your Focus

 Take the focus off of yourself or the discouraging information. Take a moment to do something kind for someone else. If you can’t visit in person, call! 

 

7. Find Resources

Look through the free resources on Seeking Hope’s store, as well as the Seeking Hope Podcast, and other blog posts. There’s a lot of useful information there!

Consider making use of one of the many mental health apps and available online meeting options. You might find Seeking Hope’s emotional first aid telecoaching useful in finding something that speaks to you.

Here are some other helpful resources to support your mental and emotional wellbeing:

 

Preparing & Transitioning Out of Quarantine

Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. You may experience mixed emotions, including a sense of relief.

Emotional reactions to coming out of quarantine may include

  • Mixed emotions, including relief
  • Fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones
  • Stress from monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of the disease
  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during the quarantine

 

As quarantine begins to end, we’ll be adapting to a new normal in our lives.

Take time to focus on the ways you can help yourself and your loved ones move through the traumas of the moment and develop the skills needed to rise through the crisis. 

 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

CDC Manage Anxiety and Stress


5 Steps For First Responder Emotional First Aid

Some days John McCormack feels like he can take on the world. But then he hears a baby cry or a siren wail, “and my heart starts pounding, and I experience a gut-wrenching feeling,” he said.

John is a paramedic, and he battles the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by his job.

John is one of many first responders who provide critical services to communities in the aftermath of disasters, both natural and manmade. 

First responders never know what a day on the job is going to look like. Their work can mean close encounters with danger, chaos, and tragedy on a daily basis.

The emotional and physical needs of those first responders are often forgotten during crisis. They may not consider their own needs, or they may simply be too occupied with other responsibilities to handle personal or family needs. 

 

But helpers need help, encouragement, and assistance, too.

When the Helpers Need Help

First responders provide critical services to communities in the aftermath of disasters, both natural and manmade. Their work can be dangerous, physically demanding, personally draining, and heart-breaking, often involving long hours and difficult circumstances. Their exposure to traumatic events can lead to a range of health and mental health consequences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), compassion fatigue, and burnout.

Studies have found that 75% of rescue workers have mild symptoms of psychological trauma following a disaster. Several factors, including longer periods of deployment, inexperience, close contact with corpses, and longer shifts, are associated with greater mental health challenges.

No matter what the title or assignment, the mission of these professionals is to respond to disasters and crises that threaten the safety and welfare of others. First responders go to the scene exposing themselves to personal and psychological traumas to care for the health and safety of others.

For first responders, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others. To continue to do the job you love or what you have been called to do, you have to take care of yourself first. 

It’s the age old saying: put your mask on first then help others to put their mask on. 

Here Are 5 Steps For Emotional First Aid For First Responders

1. Be Prepared for the Unknown

Crisis and disaster relief include anything from search and rescue operations to supply distribution or treating injuries. Understanding that situations can rapidly change at a moment’s notice and without warning is part of being ready and will have a positive effect on first responder mental health.

 

2. Consistently Assess Emotional Health

writing emotional self care

It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner when working in situations where others are experiencing horrific trauma. Still, a lack of awareness of your mental and emotional health can lead to a downward spiral. Stress reactions to intense situations include:

  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Substance abuse
  • Numbing
  • Irritability or anger
  • Confusion
  • Physical reactions, such as stomachaches and headaches
  • Depression or anxiety symptoms

If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your team, your leader, your chaplain, or your family and let them know you need support.

A crucial time to access your mental and emotional well-being is after emergency relief work. 

Stress can take time to manifest, and it’s important to be aware in the days and weeks after working in disaster relief. Many organizations institute exit exams that are designed to help first responders decompress after an emergency crisis, as well as encourage and distribute information about counseling options.

 

3. Be Aware of Your Organization’s Policies

Most agencies and organizations are aware of the importance of first responder emotional and mental health and have guidelines and policies in place to address it, such as:

  • Mandated time off
  • Shift limits
  • Task rotation to limit burnout in high-stress situations
  • Employing enough providers
  • Encouraging peer partners

 

4. Utilize Self-Care Strategies

writing emotional self care

Take time to focus on personal needs, such as making sure you are eating enough, exercising, and taking time to relax. Know your limitations and step away when it’s warranted. Focus on putting stress away and immersing yourself in activities you enjoy, such as spending time with friends or family.

Click here to learn more about self-care strategies for emotional first aid

5. Be Aware of Actions That Increase Stress

While working in emergency relief situations, it’s easy to slip into habits that can lead to decreased mental health, such as:

  • Extending periods of working alone
  • Taking limited breaks
  • Excessive use of food or substance as a crutch

Non-helpful self-talk, such as, “It would be selfish to take a break,” and “The needs of survivors are more important than the needs of helpers.”

Responding to disasters can be both rewarding and stressful. Knowing that you have stress and coping with it as you respond will help you stay well, and this will allow you to keep helping those who are affected. 

Caring for yourself while helping others does not make you selfish or needy.  The care that helpers provide others can only be as good as the care they provide themselves.

If you are a first responder or know someone who is, consider taking the CARES course so you can be empowered and equipped with the tools necessary to recognize and respond to a crisis in a healthy way.

Click Here to Start Your CARES Training Today

Sources

PTSD: How Working as a Paramedic Left Me With a Mental Health Emergency of My Own

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/06/job-tran