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Tips on mentally coping with terrorism

(CNN) -- Terrorist attacks can trigger feelings of fear, helplessness, vulnerability and grief as individuals try to deal with the aftermath, according to the American Psychological Association.

The following techniques, courtesy of the association, may help reduce anxiety and stress sparked by terrorism.

1. Live your life as normally as possible.

2. Share your feelings with others. Talk about your emotions or take time out for yourself to do what you enjoy, such as walking or reading.

3. Do the things you do well, to experience a sense of control.

4. Educate yourself so you know more about terrorism and terrorist methods.

5. Ration your exposure to the news media. Overexposure to news reporting may heighten your anxiety.

6. Reduce stress by exercising your body and mind. Exercise regularly and do mind engaging activities like crossword puzzles, board games and jigsaw puzzles. Creative pursuits like baking, writing, drawing and playing music promote relaxation.

7. Use humor as a way to cope. Watch sitcoms, attend a comedy club or read a humorous book.

Individuals who experience the following symptoms for more than a month should consider seeking outside professional mental health assistance, according to the association.

The symptoms to watch out for:

 • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event

 • Having trouble sleeping or changes in appetite

 • Experiencing anxiety and fear, especially when exposed to events or situations reminiscent of the trauma

 • Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert

 • Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy

 • Experiencing memory problems including difficulty in remembering aspects of the trauma

 • Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus on work or daily activities

 • Having difficulty making decisions

 • Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful

 • Feeling emotionally "numb," withdrawn, disconnected or different from others

 • Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness

 • Feeling extremely protective of, or fearful for, the safety of loved ones

 • Not being able to face certain aspects of the trauma, and avoiding activities, places or even people that remind you of the event

According to the association, people who experienced previous trauma could be at a somewhat higher risk for emotional strain now and may want to seek help sooner, especially anyone unable to meet daily responsibilities.


• American Psychological Association

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