Coping with Crisis and Stress
A day in the life of a college student has new meanings in these times. Each person responds to crisis differently. It is important though, to understand the potential reactions that accompany crisis and to know how to care for yourself during times of extreme stress. The information below has been created to assist you during times of stress and crisis. You may also check out the resources listed below.
Resources for Coping with the Aftermath of a Mass shooting:
Disaster Distress Helpline; the nation’s first permanent hotline dedicated to providing disaster crisis counseling. This free, confidential, and multilingual crisis support service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via telephone (1-800-985-5990)
American Psychological Association: Reacting to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, Managing your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting, Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
US Department of Education: Psychological First Aid for Students and Teachers
Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress: Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Mass Shooting
American Red Cross Red Cross Provides Support in Connecticut
American Academy of Pediatrics: Talking to Children About Disasters
New York Life: After a Loved One Dies--How Children Grieve and How Parents and Other Adults Can Support Them
ChildMind: The Connecticut School Shooting: How to Help Children Cope with Frightening News--Processing Grief and Fear in a Healthy Way
Typical Responses to Crisis
- Shock or denial
- Anger or irritability
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fear and anxiety
- Mood changes
- Changes in activity level
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Eating or appetite changes
- Sleep disturbance/ insomnia
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Inability to relax
- Difficulty making decisions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dreams or nightmares of the event
- "Flashbacks" of crisis event
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Headaches and/or back pain
- GI distress, nausea, vomiting
- Muscle tension
- Rapid heart beat
- Sweating or chills
- Exaggerated startle response
Tips for Coping and Self-Care
- Reach out and make contact with others.
- Talk with friends and loved ones.
- Recognize and accept your feelings as "normal" responses to extreme circumstances.
- Express your feelings appropriately; keep a journal to help in the process.
- Structure your time.
- Maintain your usual schedule as much as you can.
- Get extra rest and set aside time to relax.
- Eat regular balanced meals even if you don't feel hungry.
- Exercise or participate in some regular physical activity.
- Delay major decisions or changes in your life.
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs.
- Contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 703-993-2380, or a mental health professional if symptoms persist.
How to Support a Friend in Crisis
- Reach out and spend time with the person in crisis.
- Make time to talk, encourage the person to express his/her feelings, and listen.
- Respect the person's need to spend time alone, too.
- Help with everyday tasks where possible...run errands, share a meal, pick up mail, care for a pet, etc.
- Don't try to offer false cheer or "fix things"...listening non-judgmentally to another is a powerful form of support.
- Help the person connect with supportive resources on campus and in the community.
- Encourage the person to contact the Counseling Center or seek other professional help when appropriate.
- Take care of yourself and know your own limits.
Thank you to Mary Washington College Psychological Services Center for sharing prepared printed materials with Mason.
Campus and Community Resources
Mason Counseling and Psychological Services
(703) 993-2380, SUB I, Room 3129
Mason Student Health Services
(703) 993-2831, SUB I, Suite 2300
Mason Dean of Students
(703) 993-2884, SUB I, Room 4211
Mason Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education
(703) 993-2700 Suite 2400
Woodburn Community Mental Health Center