POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 117 These reactions are normal in situations of stress Most of us have had some of these reactions. Some of us may feel them more strongly or more often than others but it is reassuring to know that these are common reactions when people experience a very stressful event. In other words, you are not alone. Stressful events, even major crises, are part of life. In most cases, our life experience has given us the strengths and skills we need to gradually work through our feelings and reactions. Friends and family can help. Here are some healthy ways of looking after both ourselves and one another: Taking care of ourselves • Take breaks from the media reports and from thinking and talking about the events. • Take time to relax and exercise. This will help decrease stress and tension and help you be more alert, sleep and eat better, and get back on track. • Talk with friends, relatives, co-workers, teachers or leaders of your faith community. Talk about your thoughts, feelings and reactions. Comfort one another. Talking with others can make you feel less alone and help you sort out reactions to the events. Remember to talk about the normal issues and pleasures of your life as well - don’t let disaster take over every conversation. • Some may be quite affected by these events, others less. Patience and understanding with one another are two of the best ways to help. • Be careful about making major decisions if you are very upset. • Get back to your daily routine. Do things you enjoy to help restore a sense of safety and control. • Watch what you eat. Eat healthy foods. • Be physically active, doing something you enjoy. • Don’t use alcohol to numb your feelings. This can set up an unhealthy pattern and can lead to more serious problems down the road. • Get a good night’s sleep. Taking care of our families • Reassure family members who may be worried about their safety and about the future. • Take time to talk about the events. Relax together. For example, go to a movie or for a meal. Remember, taking time out is not a cop-out. • Everybody needs to be heard and understood. • Visit with relatives and friends. Taking care of older relatives Today’s seniors are an independent, resourceful group who have weathered many storms. Catastrophic events may trigger memories of previous painful experiences. Some seniors may be concerned about their safety and about the future. Others may feel sad, confused and disorganized for a while. Coping may be more difficult for seniors suffering from depression, thinking and memory problems, those living alone or those with few social supports. You can help by: • Visiting older people: parents, friends, relatives, neighbours. • Talking with them about their thoughts, feelings and reactions. • Including them in social and recreational activities. continued... ...continued RESPONDING TO STRESSFUL EVENTS