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Community Trauma: It’s Our Trauma, too.

One of my Facebook friends said it best: “A racially motivated massacre took 10 lives and deeply wounded an entire community. An unbelievably fierce blizzard took another 42 lives. A deadly fire meant five more young lives were lost. And now this. WNY doesn’t deserve this.”

Seven months of extraordinary circumstances piled on top of the regular ebbs and flows of life is a huge weight on any community, even one that prides itself on its strength and unity. Yes, Buffalo knows how to pull together when times are tough. We are resilient. We’re the epitome of what former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo used to call “NY Tough:” Smart, United, Disciplined, and Loving.

But even the strongest among us can be traumatized by being part of or witness to such sadness.There is no shame in this. It’s part of the human condition. And we’ll get through this together.

Spectrum Health Buffalo Hope’s Leslee Chilcott shares some valuable advice on how to manage the impact of trauma.

Remember that you have support

Do not hold it in, talk about it and through it with someone you trust or use community resources like Spectrum Health’s Buffalo Hope support line, open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm at (716)566-6506

Respect the process

Like grief, trauma affects everyone differently. Have grace for yourself and others around you. Give yourself time.

Take care of you

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support.
  • Avoid spending lots of time alone.
  • Stick to your routine.

Practice self-care and mindfulness

  • Exercise, get regular sleep, eat healthy food, stay hydrated, do something relaxing
  • Mindfulness Tips: observe your breathing/ practice deep breathing, go for a nature walk, create a journal and journal your feelings, check out mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace.

Be informed…but don’t let it take over

  • Moderate your intake of the news. Reliving the experience can re-traumatize you.
  • Look after others in your circle, too. Homebound or older folks tend to watch news stations for longer periods of time (frankly, it can keep them company when no one else comes to call.)  Too much news consumption feeds a negative thought cycle that leads to increases in anxiety and fear. Pick up the phone. Go for a visit. Change the channel.

Pay attention to how you are feeling

Know when you need to reach out for professional help. Spectrum Health is always here for you, 24/7, at 716 710 5172.

Have faith. We’ll get through this together.

Cherie Messore


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