Month: July 2012

Following the tragic events of the Movie Theater shooting, and other horrific events over the last decade or two, it is frequently difficult for individuals to cope with the feelings and anxiety that are elicited by those tragedies.  Regardless of whether you were witness to the scene, knew someone who was a victim of, or witness to, the tragedy, or if you are just hearing about it from friends or media, it is shocking and difficult to understand.

Symptoms of trauma can include nightmares, depression, anxiety and panic, feelings of insecurity or disbelief that such a tragedy could have happened.  Being aware of how you feel is the first step to taking care of yourself in such an aftermath.  There are also other things to keep in mind when trying to cope in the face of such a devastating story:

  1. Remember that feelings of shock and confusion are normal in the aftermath of a very abnormal and tragic event.
  2. Talk to people about your feelings.
  3. Spend time with the people you are close to and love.
  4. Involve yourself in activities you enjoy.
  5. Nurture yourself.
  6. Exercise.  This releases endorphins which are helpful in the healing process.
  7. Give yourself time to heal.

If you find yourself in a position where your symptoms are not improving, or you don’t have anyone with whom to talk about your emotions, it is good to seek support or counseling to help you to recover from the shock.  There is help available for processing something as difficult to understand as these unthinkable human tragedies.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC


Living in the Present

Posted on

The mountains are calling and I must go. John Muir

Are you living in the moment or are you unaware of the moment because you are so focused on tomorrow, next week, next month or  next year?  It is easy to coast along on autopilot, lost in our thoughts or worrying about things that are yet to happen.  Nevertheless, truly living and enjoying our lives happens when we focus on the “now.”  Take a moment to look around and enjoy where you are in this moment.  What do you see, hear, smell, feel?  Who are you with?  What is happening?  Just enjoying the experience of the present can set the stage for a good day and a good mood.

Often when we get caught up in the future, we lose sight of the joy that is contained in just being thankful for the simple things in life.  There is nothing wrong with planning, but don’t let that become your life.  Your happiness depends on you living those plans and being mindful of them while they are coming to fruition.  If your mind is racing and you are having difficulty slowing it down, try this mindfulness exercise:

Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and think of the following:

Imagine yourself in your favorite location: a place where you feel safe, comfortable and content.  What do you see there? What do you feel.  Think of the sounds and smells that accompany that space.  Breathe that space in, and breathe it out.  Feel the warmth that envelops you.  Spend some time just breathing in and out and focusing on the safety and warmth of that location.  Once you have spent some time relaxing and decompressing, slowly open your eyes and be present to your “now”.

From time to time when life becomes too overwhelming, ask yourself if you are too scattered, too overwhelmed or too focused on things that have yet to come.  Taking some simple steps toward a more mindful approach can change your mood, your perspective and often the quality of your day.  Enjoy the now.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC