With the violence and sickness that we witness on a daily basis, it’s extremely difficult to not have any emotional reaction. We are slowly coming out of a pandemic that has affected billions of people throughout the world. We see “leaders” ordering troops to invade and bomb other countries. We see people on the news and in person that can’t afford to eat or know where the money for rent/mortgage is coming from. Last but certainly not least, we see the disastrous effects of climate change with food prices skyrocketing. These instances cause emotional reactions whether we believe it or not!
These events can cause what is known as vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma was first found in the 1980s and is sometimes referred to as compassion fatigue. Here are some symptoms of Vicarious Trauma:
difficulty managing emotions;
feeling emotionally numb or shut down;
fatigue, sleepiness, or difficulty falling asleep;
physical problems or complaints, such as aches, pains, and decreased resistance to illness;
being easily distracted, which can increase one’s risk of accidents;
loss of a sense of meaning in life and/or feeling hopeless about the future;
relationship problems (e.g., withdrawing from friends and family, increased interpersonal conflicts, avoiding intimacy)
Now, the question is how do we deal with it?
Share your concerns and develop supportive strategies with your loved one.
Do your best not to take your loved one’s reactions personally; remind yourself that what your loved one may be experiencing is related to the job, not you.
Maintain daily life routines (predictability helps).
Stay connected with family and friends.
Discuss the demands of your loved one’s job and its impact with other family members, including responding to children’s questions in an age-appropriate manner.
Take time to engage in social, creative, and self-care activities such as reading, writing, prayer, and meditation.
Seek therapeutic or professional assistance, when needed. Even though we can go to therapy for coping skills (which is highly recommended), the biggest reason we have emotional reactions is because all of these events are out of our control. We can all learn to accept what is in our control and take control over what we need to ensure all of our prosperity. When we take control of our prosperity, we engage in activities such as:
Creating a community garden
Create networks to assist people in meeting their needs
Build relationships with people in your neighborhoods (everyone has their own skills to benefit each other)
Donate excess supplies to nonprofits i.e. food or medical supplies
Teach low-income individuals a skill you have they may not be able to access As you can tell, most, if not all of the activities above are about building community and reaching the people who may be left out. That’s because one of the major factors to help us get through tough times is having a strong community. So, let’s break down those walls and get through this… TOGETHER!