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Learning to cope in the event of a tragedy is a valuable life skill. Tragedy, in one form or another, may be inevitable. Of course, the way it affects you may not be quite the same as it affects others. Part of what makes tragedy so challenging is that there is no one-size-fits-all coping method, but, there are coping strategies that will help—you just have to find the right ones that work for you.

Ways to Cope with Tragedy

1. Share your feelings with people that care about you.

Having someone to talk to helps you process your feelings. It can be tempting to hold it all inside, especially when you are in a lot of pain, but speaking about your feelings can often be vital to the grieving process. If you are still in school, speaking with the school psychologist is a great way to address your pain.

2. Maintain your health.

Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising are all part of a healthy lifestyle—and you need your health to properly cope with a tragedy.

3. Avoid relying on alcohol or medication for dealing with grief.

For some people, alcohol and/or medication provide effective short-term relief after a tragedy, but these tools are not safe for long-term use. Developing a dependency on alcohol and/or drugs will do the opposite of what you want and need.

4. Allow yourself to slow down and process.

The time following a tragedy can be confusing and overwhelming. It may take some time for you to process everything, so allow yourself to slow down. Dr. Alex Lickerman states that he always counsels his patients not to make any major life decisions while depressed.

5. Help others.

When coping with tragedy the feeling of helplessness is quite common. One way you can counter feelings of helplessness is by helping others. In fact, studies have shown that volunteering is associated with lower depression and an increased sense of well-being.

6. Be patient.

There is no guaranteed timeline for coping with a tragedy. You may take less time or more time than others in similar situations. Be patient with yourself.

Remember—You Will Recover in Time.

Take care of yourself, give it time, and keep living your life. Over time you will heal. And if you feel like you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. There are professional resources out there that can aid your recovery.

Interested in learning more about psychology and how you can help others deal with grief? The California School of Psychology at Alliant offers undergraduate and graduate programs in multiple specialty areas of psychology. For more information contact an Alliant admissions counselor.

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