3 Steps To Protect Your Mental Health After Traumatic News

News stories and tragedies can be hard to deal with once you’ve seen them. Social media can make events feel like they’re even harder to get through. In times of sadness and traumatic news, it’s important to protect your mental health. Here are 3 steps, according to xoNecole, that you can take now to take care of yourself.

1. Know what your triggers are.

In the days of social media, your first impulse when something happens can be to tune in to your favorite platform to get the latest updates as news unfolds. If one platform isn’t giving you what we need, you may find yourself going from site to site and social platform to social platform.

The truth is, this isn’t helping. Burying yourself in information doesn’t allow you time to properly process and can become overwhelming. It’s ok to take a moment, unplug, and figure out how you’re really feeling.

2. Create boundaries.

Once you’ve figured out whatyour triggers are it’s ok to let your family and friends know. Create healthy boundaries for yourself by requesting that they don’t send you anymore information or footage.

Create the space you need to feel better and give your family and friends the information they need to support you in doing this.

3. Be mindful of what you share.

Similar to creating boundaries for yourself, take a moment and think about others that may be working to do the same thing. Be mindful of the posts and information you share. Consider whether or not your content may be triggering to someone else and allow that to inform your decision on posting, or not.

Everyone processes and grieves differently and there are people following you that may not want to (or be ready to) share in your pain or outrage.

With all of these steps, and grieving in general, it’s important to remember it’s on your time. Don’t let anyone rush you through your process or tell you it’s time to get over it. Take your healing step by step and according to what feels good to you. You may feel heavy now as the information is new, but every day of progress will remove some weight and you’ll be able to get back to yourself.

Bryana Holcomb is the Editor of BlackDoctor.org and graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women’s Studies, an MBA in Management Strategy, and Life Coaching and Nutrition certifications. Connect with Bryana on Instagram, @BryDelicia.

The 5 Stages Of Grief: How To Get Through It

older sad looking woman(BlackDoctor.org) — Death has a bad name in our culture, and it is all too often that a grieving person is told to “get over it”, “carry on”, or “be strong” in the midst of their grief.

While these bromides may be easy to say, they are generally unhelpful and can short-circuit or interrupt the very healthy grieving process of someone who’s lost a loved one.

Last week, my wife’s father died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 75. Diabetic, overweight, and prone to various dietary indulgences, his death was not entirely unexpected in the bigger picture, but one always feels that there’s more time, more visits, another Christmas, another family vacation or reunion down the road. His death was shocking on some levels, and the grieving began from the moment my wife received the call from her mother that he had indeed died.

Stages of Grief

The 5 Stages of Grief

As developed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in the 1960s and 1970s, there are generally five widely accepted basic stages ofthe grieving process, and these include denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. This process, however, is not cut and dry, and these stages can occur in any order over an enormously variable amount of time.

Some individuals may cycle through all five stages in the course of a single afternoon, while others may remain in one stage for weeks or months, “stuck” in depression or “stalled” in an overwhelming feeling of anger.

A Multitude of Emotions

While these stages may seem somewhat simplistic on a certain level, their simplicity belies the notion that, hidden within those five stages are a multitude of feelings and emotions that contribute to the overall sense of loss that each stage communicates.

The depressed person may isolate, but the angry person may also do the same, and while one person bargains with God, another may simply move into a feeling of acceptance, only to be overwhelmed with grief when the next birthday or holiday rolls around.

Grieving…While Still Living Your Life

Most professionals who work with those who are grieving would agree that the grieving process islong, sometimes lifelong in its depth and breadth. Feelings of loss can come and go, and the grieving individual may even experience moments of elation, laughter, liberation, and peace.

Even then, that same individual may also experience guilt, sensing somewhere in his or her mind that laughter and joy somehow dishonor the dead and lessen their importance and the significance of their passing. This guilt is indeed misplaced, but it is a normal part of the grieving process and is widely experienced by those grieving the loss of a loved one, whether sudden or expected.

While some widows and widowers report that the first year is the hardest, others find that the second or third year is even more difficult to navigate, especially as other family members move on with their lives and the widow or widower remains alone with their memories and their pain.

There is no cookie-cutter answer or map that can chart the course of a grieving individual’s experience. We know that the grieving individual will experience an enormous range of emotions over the short- and long-term, and we must honor the fact that every person’s reaction to the death of a loved one will be unique.

It’s (Almost) All Normal

When someone is grieving, remember that all emotions are normal, whatever they may be. If the loss was sudden or violent, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a possible reaction as well, and this often requiresprofessional intervention due to the pervasive symptoms that may result from a diagnosis of PTSD.

Grief counselors and pastoral counselors can offer a great deal of support in the wake of a death, and some grieving individuals may also require psychological and psychiatric intervention if symptoms of depression, substance abuse or suicidal ideation are apparent. Safety is always paramount, so monitor the grieving individual for symptoms that may lead to self-harm or other destructive behaviors.

Recovery/Acceptance

Some people say that we never recover from the loss of a loved one, but we learn to accept their loss and move on with our lives. Acceptance is indeed the goal when it comes to grieving, and we can accept the loss of a dear friend or family member even as we continue to miss them.

Finding peace in a world devoid of a particular beloved person can be difficult, and we may feel robbed of years of experiences and togetherness that death so rudely interrupted. Be that as it may, death is as much a part of the life cycle as birth, and living with grief is something we all eventually need to learn to do.

If you or someone you know has lost a cherished loved one, use patience, kindness, compassion, and love to assist them on their journey of grief. Remember that they may cycle through a wide variety of reactions and feelings, and as long asthey are practicing good self-care and show no signs of self-harm, it is best to allow them their feelings and simply let them know that you’re there. Listening to stories and memories of the loved one is a wonderful way to be “present” for a grieving person, and the act of listening is healing in an of itself.

Grief is a part of life, and as long as we live, love, and bond with friends, family, colleagues, and pets, we will experience losses, both great and small. Love and compassion pave the way to acceptance, and being a friend to those who are grieving is one of the greatest gifts that you can give.

Understanding The 5 Stages Of Grief

depressed businessmanKaryn Washington, creator of the popular website For Brown Girls, committed suicide at the age 22. For Brown Girls is a website known for its efforts to empower by celebrating the beauty of African-American women, particularly those of dark-complexion. Having grown comfortable in her own skin at a young age, Washington was an inspiration to women of all colors and hues as they began to recognize and embrace their own beauty. While all reports indicate that Washington had a strong sense of self, was clearly ambitious, and had a strong social network, she was dealing with a very personal battle familiar to many of us: managing loss and grief.

In our quest to understand what drives people to commit to suicide, we must first take a look at the struggles thatled up to the tragedy. Reports indicate that Washington’s mother had recently passed away after a long painful battle with cancer; the loss became increasingly difficult to manage and grief consumed this young woman. To understand how loss can turn into all-consuming grief, we must first differentiate the two.

Loss vs Grief

Loss is often associated with death. But loss can also include illness, the loss of a job, divorce or positive changes such as a promotion, a move, or marriage. Grief is the emotional process we experience as a result of the loss. There are five stages of grief widely acknowledged by mental health practitioners that were first proposed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying” and they are as follows:

1. Denial and Isolation

Our first instinct is to deny the reality of our loss. We block out the words and hide from the facts as a defense mechanism to buffer our immediate shock. It is a temporary response that helps us get through the first wave of pain.

2. Anger

As denial and isolation become increasingly difficult to maintain, the reality and pain of the situation re-emerges. We begin to express our pain as anger; an emotion that makes us feel less vulnerable. The anger is often directed toward our lost loved one, which in turn makes us feel guilty and thus makes us even angrier with those still around us.

3. Bargaining

This is a vain expression of hope that the bad news we have received isreversible; we begin seeking ways to avoid having to accept the bad thing that has happened in our life.

4. Depression

There are two types of depression associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to the implications relating to the loss (i.e., sadness, loneliness, regret). The second type of depression is more subtle and private and involves our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell.

5. Acceptance

This stage is marked by withdrawal and calm. It is not a period of depression, but one focused on a return of stability to our life. We are ready and actively involved in moving on to the next phase of our lives.

The grief stages listed above are commonly experienced by people suffering from loss. The five stages can occur in any order and each stage can vary in intensity and longevity. Therefore, there should be no shame or stigma associated with the expression of these commonly accepted human emotions.

Society often does not afford us the time needed to move through each stage organically and thus some never reach the acceptance stage of mourning and may never move beyond their denial or anger. If you find yourself “stuck” in a grief stage, counseling and psychotherapy can play an integral role in helping you process the pain and continue moving forward in the grieving process.

Visit the BlackDoctor.org Mental Health center for more helpful articles and tips.

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