Taming Trauma: 10 Tips for Coping with the Marathon Bombing Anniversary

Runner

By: Amy Maricle

As the anniversary of the Boston marathon bombings approaches, I want you to know:  it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel nothing. It’s okay to throw out the shirt you wore that day because you can’t look at it. It’s okay not to watch another media clip of what happened. It’s okay to scream and cry, or yell or shake, because what happened was not okay. And whether you were there and saw it right in front of you, or you saw it on tv, chances are you were deeply affected. So you are not overreacting. You are not being overly emotional. You are human.  You need space and time to heal.

 

Common Reactions to Trauma Anniversaries

For some people, the anniversary of a trauma can transport them right back to the event, as though they are living through it again. Others may just feel irritable, moody, distant, or numb. Some people may not notice anything at all. Regardless of your reaction, know that you can take steps to take care of yourself in the marathon season.

 

 

 

10 Tips for Coping with the Bombing Anniversary:

 

1. Accept your feelings and reactions, and share them. There is no “right” or “wrong” response to trauma. Pressuring yourself to respond differently or to hide your feelings will likely intensify your reactions. Journal about it, make art  about it., or talk about it.

 

2. Avoid media coverage. Viewing upsetting images repeatedly about a traumatic event can be a risk factor for developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

3. Slow down. Meditate, do yoga, breathing exercises, or take a bath.

 

4. Do Something. Donate to the One Fund, volunteer, or help someone else. You are in control now.

 

5. Take care of your body. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, and limit caffeine and alcohol.

 

6. Get some exercise. Endorphins can do wonders for your mood.

 

7. Get Distracted. Focus on doing some fun activities. Ruminating about it won’t help.

 

8. Connect with people who make you laugh and feel loved. Spending time with others, laughing, and feeling connected are excellent medicine for an ailing heart.

 

9. Anticipate your needs and plan for them. Especially if you are running or spectating at the marathon, think ahead. Create a coping plan for the day in case you struggle. Some ideas include: carrying something meaningful like a picture or a worry stone, wearing a Boston Strong t-shirt, attending with a group, having a friend be “on call” in case you need someone to talk to, or posting positive updates about the marathon to social media.  Psychologists will also be stationed along the route to help anyone who may feel overwhelmed. (Read more here.) Use the resources available to you to create new memories on this special day.

 

10. Get help. If you feel like it’s hard to function in one or more areas of your life, it may be time to seek support. A therapist can help you get back in control of your life, and feel happier again.

 

 

 

Resources for dealing with trauma:

 

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/disaster_recovery_trauma_stress_coping.htm

 

http://www.samhsa.gov/trauma/

 

http://www.redcross.org/find-help/disaster-recovery/recovering-emotionally

 

http://www.traumacenter.org/resources/tc_resources.php

 

 

 Comments:

What is helping you cope with the anniversary of the bombings? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

 I Am Here to Help

Email me or call 508-964-2029 for a free phone consultation. Together we will define how to help you get back on track.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

 

Image credit: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo

4 Comments

  1. Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC

    Hey, Amy! I was in Hawaii presenting at the ACA conference when this post came out so I’m a little behind on getting here. I love this! Such a helpful reminder that there really are things we can do to feel better when unspeakable things happen.

    I was here in Colorado when the bombings occurred. I’m wondering where you were . . . .

    Reply
    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Tamara:
      Thanks for dropping by! I was here in Foxboro, MA, last year, quite close by. In greater Boston, we all lived through the manhunt and aftermath of the bombings. It was indeed scary. I know that you all in CO, have far too much experience with scary things. It really was amazing how frightening it was. And one year out, while people are still mourning their losses, I think many of us are also so proud of what an amazing community we are, both as runners and as Bostonians. Boston Strong is real. If you haven’t, check out this great song by local songstress, Michele Lewis. It features a bunch of my awesome running friends. (I almost made the video, but my moment of fame was edited out. HAHA.)
      Be well,
      Amy

      Reply

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