Current Events and Collective Trauma: Resources & Help

Article by: Brianna Reineke, LPC, LCDC

May 25, 2022

This August, we celebrate National Wellness Month!

National Wellness Month is an opportunity for all of us to establish healthy habits, such as stress management and remaining present – both for ourselves and others. Establishing practices for self-care and wellbeing is essential to enhancing our quality of life, both as individuals and members of our community. Focusing on topics such as nutrition, sleep patterns, and exercise could all enhance your well-being. The benefits of self-care patterns and wellness often result from a range of simpler changes, as it takes 21 days to create a habit. It is important for you to feel comfortable with the change you create for yourself as well!

Events related to the COVID-19 pandemic of the last two years may make establishing self-care habits overwhelming or even make them feel like daunting tasks. Reframing these habits to fit your needs can help them to feel less challenging. For example, If you want to set a goal to “drink more water,” but struggle to drink water or do not like the taste, you might consider changing the goal to, “stay well hydrated.” This also might allow you more room to drink fruit juices, or some sports drinks if those appeal more to your tastebuds.

You likely have read the news about Uvalde.

Many people have expressed disbelief that this happened in a school again and that this occurred soon after other shootings in recent weeks. You might be experiencing grief, anger, fear, panic, disconnection, disbelief, and a variety of other emotions. Anger about how this happened, grief for the loss and the drastically different school experience children have versus what adults had, and maybe uncertainty or fear for your own safety or for those you love. It seems as though we’ve barely caught our breaths over the past few weeks from collective trauma after collective trauma, not to mention the chronic stress we’ve experienced collectively and individually over the past two years. Our bodies have evolved to quickly and effectively react to acute stress, such as immediate, life-threatening events. What’s challenging for us is when that activation becomes chronic, as it has for many of us recently.

Many people have described feeling exhausted or speechless since yesterday. Maybe you heard similar phrases in 2020 when it seemed that an “unprecedented event” was happening weekly. Feeling depleted in some way is likely expected after repeated exposure to collective trauma, including mass shootings. Coping after this event is challenging, but there are some things you can do even when feeling helpless, such as monitoring social media consumption, turning toward others for mutual support and co-regulation, capitalizing on your strengths to contribute to social change instead of trying to master everything, grounding yourself, aligning with your values, and practicing self-compassion. It might also help to slow down and take things day by day or hour by hour.

Below are resources that can provide further support, education, and skills during this time.

Resources in Response to the Robb Elementary School Shooting 

In response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde Texas, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help children, families, educators, and communities navigate what they are seeing and hearing, acknowledge their feelings, and find ways to cope together. These resources include:

Psychological First Aid

The NCTSN also has resources for responders on Psychological First Aid (PFA; En Español). PFA is an early intervention to support children, adolescents, adults, and families impacted by these types of events. PFA Mobile and the PFA Wallet Card (En Español) provide a quick reminder of the core actions. The PFA online training course is also available on the NCTSN Learning Center.

Additional PFA resources for schools include:

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