Coping in Challenging Times
Cope to work for change, work for change to cope.
Posted Feb 23, 2018
Over the past week, since the deaths of 17 teenagers in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, there has been a lot of talk of change. This is a time to talk of change, and I’ve been touched and impressed by the students who, using the shocking tragedy they survived and their school’s namesake as an inspiration, became activists overnight.
There have also been a lot of people who have sat, quietly and numbly, as yet another violent event shook a community and rippled out to a nation.
This piece is for all of those people. The exhausted, overwhelmed, lost. And the activists; the change agents; the people who have called, walked out, and organized.
Yesterday, I heard the mother of a child who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting say that she tells activists to make sure they’re eating, sleeping, taking deep breaths. I was so glad she said that, because I couldn’t imagine how she was keeping it together five years later, having sent her child off to school one morning never expecting his life to end that day. She’s making change, and she’s doing so by coping—by making sure she’s eating, sleeping, and taking deep breaths. She couldn’t make change without that foundation of basic wellness.
At this moment, some of us will cope and some of us will work for change. Some of us will cope in order to work for change. And some of us will work for change in order to cope.
The Riverside Trauma Center, based in Massachusetts, created a guide to help people understand reactions to highly stressful or potentially traumatic events. The guide highlights coping strategies for different types of reactions, some of which I’d like to share here. (You can access the full guide here.)
Copyright 2018 Elana Premack Sandler, All Rights Reserved