When do we get some relief? As a community, we’ve really had a tough time recently, as Will Grandbois’ story on the recent volume of high-profile incidents illustrated. And while it’s gratifying to know that officials believe it is an aberration and not a trend, this seemingly unending spate of events elevates stress in our valley.
With the recent number of incidents, more residents have direct connections to these tragedies, and others with no direct link are experiencing vicarious trauma just hearing about them.
Secondary exposure to tragedy and trauma can overwhelm us with the idea that the world is an unsafe and scary place, so it’s important to gain perspective. One way to do so is to limit your time and exposure to the repeated media coverage of traumatic details.
How do you know if you are being impacted? If you find yourself dealing with higher levels of stress, anxiety and worry; start having issues with sleep, or physical symptoms including muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches or just find it difficult to relax, some self-care is called for. There’s a reason airlines tell you to secure your oxygen mask before helping others.
Emotional resilience — the ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises, to “roll with the punches” and adapt without lasting difficulties — is one of our most valuable life skills, found to be closely connected with happiness.
Resilience is not just for catastrophes, it helps us manage the minor stresses of daily life as well. It is found in a variety of behaviors, thoughts and actions that, with focus and a little effort, can be developed throughout your life.
In building resilience, think about:
Awareness — understand what you are feeling and why.
Perseverance — trust in the outcome and don’t give up.
Optimism — see the glass as half full, believe in your strengths.
Perspective — learn from mistakes, allow adversity to strengthen oneself.
Laughter — a sense of humor allows us to navigate life’s difficulties.
Spirituality — it’s been shown that connecting to our spiritual side connects to emotional resilience.
Support — maybe the most important point of all. Relating with family, friends and those who love you feeds your energy levels and can lighten burdens.
Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without problems or pain, as it is certain distressing situations will continue to happen. It really just means giving greater power to your positive emotions over negative ones. It’s always the season for making lemonade out of lemons.
— Sharon Raggio is president and chief executive officer of Mind Springs Health, the largest provider of mental health and wellness services on the Western Slope. Special thanks to Garfield County Program Director Jackie Skramstad for the inspiration.