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Lessons Learned from 9/11: How to Cope with Pandemic TraumaNo one saw the COVID-19 pandemic coming, and it has raised a lot of questions about how we handle trauma as a society. Some people cope by ignoring the problem, while others become hyper-vigilant about protecting themselves from it.

Most people are just trying to stay healthy and avoid trauma by wearing masks and doing their best to adjust to the “new normal” we are faced with. Emotions range from apathy to paralyzing fear, and everything in between. According to 9/11 researchers, one of the biggest challenges that people face today is making sense of what is happening.

Making Sense of the Coronavirus on Our Own

In most cases, we have formed our own narratives to help us make sense of this pandemic. Some people may come up with conspiracies like someone intentionally spreading the virus to give them peace about the situation. Some may be in denial and decide that the pandemic does not exist so they can go outside and resume their regular routine as usual. It is only when they get sick from COVID-19 or know someone who does that their denial is gone.

How do we make sense of it all? With people losing jobs, missing milestone events, and worse, it’s easy to come up with negative narratives — but one narrative that puts a positive spin on things is everyone being able to come together to care for another.

Finding Coherence During a Pandemic

Coherence is a deep human desire to make sense and meaning of the world. Finding meaning in this pandemic and what can be done to live each day safely can be challenging, but it can also help you with your trauma. A lot of the stress we feel when faced with trauma is due to avoiding the unpleasant emotions that result from it.

It’s important to change how we relate to our feelings and the uncontrollable emotions behind them. Accepting that a thought is just a thought — good or bad — can build up your stress tolerance and allow you to enjoy life more. You can try practicing mindfulness to take notice of your thoughts and feelings with no distractions.

You can also try to make sense of this pandemic by using art to express your feelings, journaling, volunteering, or talking to your loved ones about their experiences.

Finding Meaning in Recovery

Researchers have concluded that after 9/11, the people who found meaning in the attacks while still acknowledging the emotional weight of them had lower rates of psychological complications and increased resilience. In other words, you need to acknowledge that you are experiencing grief, instead of pushing your feelings away.

Accept that the pandemic has happened and will stay with us for a while. Finding meaning during times like these will teach you that everything happens for a reason and that we can still make the best out of tragic circumstances.

The pandemic has caused trauma for people all over the world. If you are one of them, you don’t have to overcome it alone. The Guest House offers many resources to help resolve your trauma, including individualized and group therapy, art therapy, somatic therapy, equine therapy, and more. We are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more, call us now at (855) 483-7800.