Exercise Can Help People Cope After National Tragedy

In the wake of the terrorist hijackings and attacks, your members and staff alike are bound to feel shell-shocked, and may be experiencing a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, shock and fear, among others. Tom Marcoux, author of Coping When Tragedy Strikes, says that we must, as a nation, help ourselves and each other to cope with recent events, and suggests that exercise is one way to do that. “Use coping strategies to our national disaster or pay the price in health problems,” he says.

Saying that everyone needs a coping strategy as disasters incite fear and adrenaline responses, Marcoux offers the following tips to help C.O.P.E.

• Create
Marcoux recommends creating “time pockets.” He says, “Take time to create peace for yourself.” His suggestions include occasionally turning the television off, as keeping it constantly on can keep a person in an adrenaline state. He encourages people to rest, exercise, talk with family members without the television on and maintain a regular daily routine as much as possible.

• Open
“Open to focus on what is unchangeable,” Marcoux says. He advises devoting some time to spiritual practices, including writing in a journal, reading spiritual books — whatever helps to gain a larger, comforting perspective.

• Prepare
Prepare a list of options. Having a plan can help to handle fear about what to do in case of future events.

• Expect
“Expect and focus on the good,” says Marcoux. He says that directing thoughts positively can help to release fear. “Many people connect being a good person with worrying about other people. Consider the replacement for worry is being concerned, taking action and letting go. Researchers find unrelieved stress causes health problems,” says Marcoux.