The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,
our country at war with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and the continuing threat of terrorism in America have created an indelible imprint in our minds and have affected our emotions. These events have caused us to experience unusually strong emotional reactions and may have potential to interfere with our ability to function.
It is normal to feel overwhelmed during times of conflict. You may feel afraid, unsafe or at a loss of what to do. You may have trouble concentrating and feel so consumed that you have trouble focusing on little else. Sometimes the emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) appear immediately. Sometimes they appear a few hours or a few days later. In some individuals, weeks or months may pass before the "stress reactions" appear.
Understanding Your Reactions
Normal Reactions to Abnormal Situations
- Your feelings are probably quite normal and natural.
- We are all individuals; we all respond in our own unique way.
- Everyone will move at his/her own pace through the stages of crisis and healing.
- There is no accurate predetermined length of time for recovering.
- For some people, there may be ongoing problems.
Emotional Signals of a Stress Reaction
- Anxiety About Future Events
- Intense Anger
- Emotional Shock
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Loss of Control
Processes That Affect Thoughts
- Difficulty Making Decisions
- Difficulty in Concentration
- Distressing Dreams or Inability to Rest
- Poor Attention Span
- Hyper-alertness to Environment
- Changes in Usual Communication
Guidelines for Handling Crisis
- Talk out your concerns and share your feelings with others. You may be feeling different emotions at different times. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Confusion. Even numbness . . . not feeling anything at all. These feelings are normal reactions to tragic events. If you feel the need, share how you feel with members of your family or other trusted friends and acquaintances, and be willing to listen to others as they share their feelings and concerns with you.
- Everyone is different and reacts differently to traumatic events. Try not to compare yourself with others and remain respectful toward them. People are upset. During the coming days and weeks, you may hear people talking about who is to blame. You may even hear angry remarks about whole countries and groups of people. Don't give in to feelings of prejudice.
- After seeing so much destruction and death, and sensing the fear and anger of those around you, it's hard not to be worried about your safety and the safety of your family. The images seen on television may make the war and risk of terrorist attacks seem close by, even if you live far from where they happen.
- Give yourself and your family time to react. It's important to maintain as normal a schedule as possible, but first everyone will need time to absorb information and come to terms with these frightening and tragic events. Take a TV break. Although it's natural to want to know what's happening, don't spend hours in front of the television set. Taking a break from watching what's going on in the world can be an important and helpful thing to do.
- Take care of yourself. Losing sleep, not eating and worrying too much can cause you to become rundown, on edge and irritable. As much as possible, try to get enough rest, eat right, keep a normal routine and allow yourself to get away from it all from time to time. It may be hard to do, but it can keep you healthy and better able to deal with your situation. And, be sure to avoid using alcohol and other forms of drugs to handle your emotions unless they have been prescribed by a licensed physician.
- Help out and be with others. In times of tragedy and conflict, people find comfort in banding together to help and in giving each other support. Although you are not able to be right on the scene to help victims and survivors, you can help to organize an event to raise money, you can make a donation yourself, or you can donate and collect items to help the victims and survivors. You can also take part in prayer ceremonies, memorial services and other events in your neighborhood and community.
We are a great nation and in these times of difficulty and challenge we will come together to overcome the struggles of our nation and what may be yet to come. The signs and symptoms of stress reaction may last a few days, a few weeks or a few months, and occasionally longer. With understanding and support from loved ones, the stress reactions usually pass more quickly.
At times, traumatic events are so painful that professional assistance from a counselor may be necessary. This does not imply weakness. It simply indicates that the event was just too powerful to manage alone.
If we can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact us.
The St. Alexius Employee Assistance Program