Calming Our Anxious Minds Is Possible Even After Terror in Paris
"Saying ’I accept uncertainty even if I don’t like it’ has the paradoxical effect of reducing stress."
The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris were designed to strike fear into the hearts of the French people and the world. Intense fear is a common initial response to a traumatic event. And many Americans may discover that the fears they had after the 9/11 terror attacks have resurfaced, triggered by the killings in Paris. Victims of terror or of any serious, life-threatening event can develop symptoms of severe stress which, if they persisit beyond thirty days, fit the description for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is estimated that nearly eight-percent of Americans currently suffer from PTSD. And even if their trauma did not occur by acts of terror, the massacre in Paris can trigger fears of danger and helpessness.
But anxious minds can be calmed, although for some it may take time. One common symptom after a traumatic event is overthinking. Victims replay the event in their mind, overanalyzing what happened and what might happen in the future. “They try to reduce future uncertainty by overthinking and in the process become overwhelmed by ’What if?’ thoughts,” says psychologist Dr. Paul Coleman, author of “Finding Peace When Your Heart Is in Pieces.” “They need to practice saying: ’I accept uncertainty even if I don’t like it’ which has the paradoxical effect of reducing stress,” Coleman says.
For severe trauma, the treatment method EMDR developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro has been demonstrated to be highly effective. Therapists must be specially trained to conduct EMDR treatment. Other research findings suggest that returning to familiar routines as soon as possible is helpful as is reaching out to others for support. In addition, “Serving others, even in small ways, helps take the focus off yourself and can actually alter brain chemistry in a positive direction,” states Dr. Coleman, who is also the founder of www.FindingPeaceInYourHeart.com
Fear is part of the human condition. But it’s possible to manage fear and even overcome it despite trauma, tragedy, and loss.
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