Coping in Times of Tragedy

It can be challenging to stay sober when you’re coping with tragedy.

The recent shooting event in Orlando has brought to surface many emotions for our country. We continue to grieve this tragedy together and are finding that many people are experiencing anger, sadness, confusion, grief and anxiety.  With a surge of emotions that arise in response to tragic events, it is understandable that some of us may experience temptations to return to our addictive behaviors in order to cope with stress and loss.  It is important to understand that this is a normal reaction and a part of recovery. It is also important to know that while the urge may be there, we do not need to give in. Now is the time to call on those new coping tools we’ve been working on!

Some common reactions to tragic events:

  • sober man coping with tragedyIncreased fear, anxiety and worry in relation to our safety and the safety of others.
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention.
  • Increased irritability and/or anger.
  • Grief and/or potential withdrawal
  • Engaging or the increased temptation to engage in drug/alcohol use or other self-harm behaviors.
  • Headaches, stomach aches, fatigue.
  • Drain of joy or energy.
  • Increased sensitivity to loud noises, crowds or social engagement.

Self-care is going to be a vital piece of healing as we grieve. Honoring our emotions and making space even for the uncomfortable ones, is important to our healing process.

Here are some ways you can take care of yourself in times of tragedy:

  • Meet your physical needs: sleep, eat, hydrate and exercise/move your body.
  • Allow extra time to handle and process emotions. Journaling, napping, and listening to comforting music are a few ways we can create space and manage emotions.
  • Support one another. Hold, hug, walk and talk with those we feel safest with.

We can expect that we will all react to this horrific event in very different ways. It is essential that we be supportive and understanding of our different reactions and feelings. Isolating ourselves or others during times of grief is lonely, difficult and can become scary if we don’t have a healthy outlet to process thoughts and feelings. Should urges continue to remain or increase it is critical that we reach out to our support team immediately, maybe even schedule a session with our favorite therapist. Let’s start the conversation, support one another and call on those tools we’ve been working so hard to obtain in treatment and throughout our recovery.

Healing is a process that involves time and emotional work. Engaging in our temptations will ultimately only make matters worse. We can work through this together. Be an open ear or a welcoming hand to one another and let’s share our compassion by supporting our community during this truly tragic time of loss.

The entire Practical Recovery team sends condolences to those directly and indirectly affected by the events in Orlando. Our hearts are heavy and we offer positive thoughts and hopes for healing to those experiencing grief, loss and sadness during this difficult time.