The Oklahoma State tragedy cast a dark shadow over what would’ve been a normal weekend. I was lucky to not be directly affected, but I know many who are. I hurt and am sad for all those struggling right now, and I know no words will be enough. No matter how many times we go through tragedy, we still struggle with loss and our reaction to the events. What is normal and what is not? How can keep going with daily life?
Since one of the victims was a UCO MBA student, the UCO counselors came to my class last night and led an open discussion, allowing people to talk. At first I was hesitant, but it ended up being a very good exercise. In discussing coping mechanisms, I realized this not only applies to tragedy, but also in many other areas of life.
Even if it isn’t a traumatic event, we daily go through things that cause us stress. Traumatic events are really just more intense stress. So in the way that coping works for traumatic events, it will also work with other stress creators. For me this stress creator is school. I have a horrible attitude when it comes to school and the people around me pay for it. So how do I cope?
I can tell my reactions aren’t good. Samantha can tell you, I “protest” what I have to do. I rant and rant, then rant some more. This leads to me getting angry. The increased stress leaves me craving bad food. Then the only way to calm down is to relax and do nothing, which means watching TV.
During the counseling session in class, I realized how bad my reactions were. Online you can find plenty of good resources, and I’ve linked the CDC if you’d like to review a resource.
Here is how I plan to react in the future.
Exercise more, get 8 hours of sleep
By being more active, you release endorphins. I tell myself often during these busy periods that I just don’t have time. It’s very easy to convince yourself, but the reality is this is the time you should focus on yourself more. Sleep affects so many things, but I know it really effects my mood and “fuse.” If I sleep less, I’m more moody.
I immediately go to junk food, because it is a comfort food. This is a horrible reaction, and I think we all have this. I saw last semester that after the stress of class or a particularly bad day at work, I’d run by 7-Eleven and get a Mountain Dew and some sweets. Somehow I thought it would help, and maybe it did while I was eating, but it isn’t a long-term solution. It also makes you fat.
Read my Bible
When I’m busy, I tend to say the same thing about reading my Bible as I do about exercise: “I don’t have time.” The reality is just the same: this is when we need God the most. It’s amazing how quickly we forget what we need. The comfort of prayer and scripture is something that will be life-giving even if you fail at the other steps.
For me, specific things from the session last night were applicable to how I react, but we could all struggle in different areas. Where do you struggle?