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Navigating Trauma Responses When Consuming News & Social Media Content

In today's interconnected world, where news of conflict and turmoil is constantly at our fingertips, the impact of such information on individuals with a history of racism-based, xenophobia-based, anti-semitic-based and intergenerational trauma, cannot be understated. The inundation of distressing news, be it about war, genocide, or other forms of societal upheaval, can serve as a fresh trauma, reawakening past wounds and amplifying emotional distress. What compounds this issue further is the potentially triggering nature of responses to this news on social media. It is common to find comment sections filled with invalidation, racism, and hate. Here, we'll delve into how trauma in the news and online discourse can activate one's own trauma history, and explore effective strategies to manage the subsequent surge in symptoms.

Unearthing the Impact of Marginalized Identity and Intergenerational Trauma

For individuals with a marginalized identity, news of violence, discrimination, or systemic injustice can bring forth deeply ingrained memories of personal or ancestral suffering. This resurfacing of historical trauma, which has been passed down through generations, can intensify feelings of helplessness, anger, and despair. Moreover, when exposed to divisive or dismissive dialogues on social media, individuals may experience a renewed sense of isolation, invalidation, or re-traumatization, exacerbating their psychological distress.

Coping Strategies for Managing Increased Trauma Symptoms

1. Conscious Media Consumption: Limit your exposure to distressing news, and opt for reputable sources that provide context and analysis, rather than sensationalized narratives. You do not need to disconnect completely as it is understandable to want to stay informed, especially if you have family or friends who are more directly impacted. Do NOT read the comments. The comment section rarely adds any additional value and it's a breeding ground for trolls.

2. Grounding Techniques: Engage in mindfulness practices, deep breathing exercises, or sensory activities to anchor yourself in the present moment and regulate heightened emotions. Taking care of your body, your mind, and your nervous system will help sustain you for the long road ahead.

3. Seek Support: Connect with trusted friends, family, or support groups to share your feelings and experiences. Professional counseling can provide a safe space to process and navigate complex emotions. You do not have to figure any of this out alone.

4. Cultivate Self-Compassion: Practice self-care and self-compassion through activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Establish a routine that prioritizes rest, nutrition, and activities that bring you joy. It can be hard to feel okay about taking care of or enjoying yourself when others are suffering so greatly, but again this will help sustain you for the long road ahead. On the other side of the same coin, be sure to acknowledge your emotions, even the painful ones, acknowledge your thoughts, even the angry ones, and give that grief, guilt, despair, or whatever it is, room to breathe.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." - Audre Lorde

5. Community Engagement: Participate in community-building activities or advocacy efforts that align with your values, fostering a sense of solidarity and empowerment through collective action. Not only will this mitigate feelings of helplessness, but community and support networks are the number one protective factor for any mental health struggle.

Moving Toward Healing and Resilience

Recognizing the intricate interplay between external events and internal experiences is a crucial step toward managing trauma. By proactively implementing these coping strategies and acknowledging the impact of societal trauma, individuals can foster a resilient approach to navigating the complexities of their emotional well-being. Remember, the pain and sorrow of seeing violence in the world is a natural and adaptive reaction. It does not warrant pathologizing. However, there are steps you can take to minimize this pain from becoming disruptive and debilitating ,and instead harness it into fuel for traumatic growth and change in the world.


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