Stress is an unfortunate part of life. But most of the time, hard as it can be, it’s ordinary-life stress, ordinary-job stress, or ordinary-illness stress. We’ve all absorbed media reports about the health consequences of the over-stressed life.
But what about when events like terrorist attacks explode into our awareness? That can take “normal” stress levels into the stratosphere, and seriously impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep. When times are hard and scary, you need good sleep more than ever.
Here are some approaches that can help you cope with the normal, human fears that spike during frightening times. And then sleep can work its healing wonders.
Acknowledge the cause
If your life is pretty stressful in the first place, it may not automatically occur to you that the latest horrifying news may be changing how you feel and function. Take a moment to notice whether you’re more tired than usual, or having trouble concentrating or eating normally. You might find that tears or anger rise more easily, or that you’re irritated by things you’d usually let slide. Or your sleep may be restless or broken by troubling dreams.
Name your feelings
It’s easy to fall back on the word “upset.” Naming your emotions in a more nuanced way can help you retake control of your personal narrative. Consider when other terms might be more accurate descriptors for the way you feel: anxiety, fear, hope, shame, pride, anger, loss of control, outrage, disillusionment, grief, lack of safety, concern for others, or powerlessness. You may feel several emotions at once during crisis times and they will change during the course of a day. That’s normal, too.
Manage your media
When awful things happen, we turn to news outlets for information. Even as the initial waves of shock recede, it’s common to keep on clicking. Try to resist that impulse if you sense that your well-being is compromised by the drumbeats. You don’t have to withdraw from reality, but remember that using radio, television or streaming news means you’ll be exposed to endless bulletins whether or not you feel ready to take them in. Tune instead to a music streaming service or an old-movie channel for a while. There will always be more news to absorb when you feel ready.