|"With Love" collage by Lani, textures by FlyPaper.|
During times of sorrow, it is important to remember to take care of ourselves and others, to be as kind as possible (even when your social media is screaming with troll-like verbal abuse).
1. Gretchen suggests you turn off the TV so as to cut down on the activation of the stress response system that gets highly activated each time you watch particularly trauma inducing news. The idea is to create a calming environment for yourself and anyone around you. Instead of TV try making some art while listening to some Baroque music (replicating soothing rhythm of hearts beating in utero.
2. Gretchen reminds us that trauma shatters our experience of safety so we all seek some reassurance that our loved ones are okay, and we want to believe that this will never happen to us. She suggests that while we can’t promise that nothing bad will ever happen to us, we can reassure ourselves and others that we will do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those around us. Remember what Mr. Rogers' mother told him when he was a child, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Create art around this theme.
3. Remember your routines. Consistent routines are a huge help for all people, not just for children. They help us feel more solid and secure. Trauma is about feeling caught off guard, while familiar, nurturing routines help us feel more contained and safe. Pay attention to the nurturing routines in difficult times. They will carry you through.
4. Feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming. Gretchen suggests helping kids to paint thank you cards to helpers. Art as a gift can be a wonderfully empowering activity. Have you seen the short video conversation between a father and child in France around the bombing? It's lovely and it's being said that it's even allowing some French people to 'let go of their tears' which of course is a very helpful thing. Do watch it if you have a chance.
5. Finally her last "thing" is simple, create more light and love. "Let’s resolve each day to bring a little more light and a little more love: smile more, let the person in front of you pull in to traffic, pay someone’s toll or coffee, offer to get up and let someone who looks tired sit down, bring dinner to a friend or neighbor in need, call your pastor or minister and ask of there is someone who could use a little more support this week, plant a few more flowers. As a Girl Scout we were always taught to leave a place cleaner than we found it, and perhaps more now than ever we need the corollary—to leave a place ‘lighter’ or ‘more loving’ than we found it."