We woke up to the news that fifty people died in a horrible plane crash last night. Grief grips our community. Nothing can come close to describing what anyone who lost a loved one feels. My deepest sympathies for your loss.

Many of us are not directly effected by this tragedy. For those of us who live in or close to Clarence, have friends and family who live there, anxiety can prey on us. Add to that fear of flying issues, PTSD or sensitivity to panic attacks and we’ve got a formula for full blown anxiety.

Let’s take care of ourselves so that we can function not only for ourselves but also for our loved ones, especially the kids. How do we do that?  Here are some tips:

Turn off the radio or television. Get off the news blogs. I am convinced that our brains and bodies are not made to assimilate repeated traumatic news. All we achieve is overloaded circuits and increased anxiety. Allow yourself to walk away from the news and come back to it later if you must and then only for ten minute updates.

Breathe. If you begin to feel the yellow flag signals of anxiety coming on (increased heart rate, shallow breathing, tense muscles, sweaty palms…) use your coping tools to keep the fear under control. Don’t run away from the feeling. Stop and breathe through it. Keep breathing; make yourself as comfortable as possible. Go to healthy distractions, like exercise, call a friend, go to church, mosque or temple. If you’re at work, don’t expect yourself to focus as usual, be easy on yourself and keep your schedule light if you can.

The best antidote to anxiety is action. What can you do? You can help. Erica on the Buffalo News blog (see the comment section) suggests a way to help the family that lost their house and loved one. They lost everything. You can also pray; pray for those who perished, their families and for the emergency response teams. They will need God with them. If you don’t pray, find out where you can give blood and go do it. It may not help in this situation but it will help someone somewhere in another emergency.

Be calm for your kids. If you have small children, they need you to be grounded and practical. Answer their questions as directly as you can without elaborating. If they ask: “Will a plane fall on our house?” Answer: “No, of course not. This is a very strange thing that happened. It’s never happened before and it will never happen again.” This is a perfectly appropriate thing to say to small children. It may be a slight exaggeration but not much and they need to be reassured they are safe.

Don’t give in to the anxious thoughts. Fight back. Remember to give yourself the oxygen of balanced thinking. You are fine. A tragedy of this magnitude challenges all of us but most of us are OK.

Sadness is not the same as anxiety. Neither is grief. Grief is necessary. Respect it. Anxiety is an intruder. Firmly tell it to leave

Please leave a comment if you have questions, need help or have more suggestions!