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Coping with traumatic times: mental health experts weigh in on absorbing the news

They say the best way to help yourself, is by focusing on yourself.
Coping with traumatic times: mental health experts weigh in how to absorb the news
Posted at 11:02 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 07:15:23-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Mental health professionals say it’s perfectly understandable to feel overwhelmed right now, and the best way to help yourself, is by focusing on yourself.

The news of Monday's tragedy in Boulder was certainly traumatic for many to take in--and it came on the heels of an already traumatic year.

“Trauma is anything that we consider traumatic in our lives,” said Nikki Walther, a Mental Health Clinician at Riverbend Counseling in Colorado Springs. “Anything that has felt that way.”

News 5 asked multiple mental health professionals, and they agree, this past year was particularly traumatic for all of us.

“I think most everybody in the mental health field will agree,” said Emily Rademan, a Licensed Psychologist at Peak Mind Consulting in Colorado Springs.

“Just a global pandemic--I say just--but that is enough to have anyone feel like they need additional support,” Walther said.

“Especially with losing our daily activities, our daily structure,” Rademan said.

But then you add the past year’s social strife and political tension to the mix.

“Everybody’s pretty much on edge already,” Rademan said.

“Whenever they feel like they’re coping effectively, something else happens,” Walther said.

‘Something else,’ like Monday's tragedy in Boulder.

“Some people are gonna feel anxious or overwhelmed,” Rademan said. “They’re gonna feel angry.”

Which is why they say it’s important to be aware of what’s triggering those feelings in you.

“Really being mindful of the media we’re allowing to enter our minds,” Walther said.

“When we’re pulling up and seeing the same story over and over and over, our brain isn’t necessarily recording that as the same event, it’s recording them as separate,” Rademan said.

And more often than not, venting to social media only adds more stress.

“Most of the times when we look at social media, we’re not necessarily receiving the truth, we’re receiving a perception,” Rademan said. “And we’re gonna receive as many perceptions one way as we will another, which becomes then exhausting.”

“It’s okay to say I’m not gonna get on my phone today to look at Facebook or Instagram, I’m gonna delete those,” Walther said.

And if you start to feel those anxious feelings--

“Immediately I would reach out to a loved one or a friend and say, hey this is really getting to me,” Rademan said.

Take a moment, and focus on the things you can control.

“I’m safe in my home, I have people that love me, I have a dog that I love and loves me. Whatever they know to be true,” Walther said.

It’s important to know there should be zero shame in reaching out for help, whether it's through Rademan, Walther or any other mental health professional. Rademan says she's seen about a 30 percent rise in demand for her services since the pandemic started--a good sign that people are getting help.