Tips for Handling Tragedy

Whether you are impacted by traumatic events close to home or natural disasters, contentious political discourse, bias-motivated incidents or acts of terror around the world, it’s natural to feel deeply affected by one or more of these incidents.

Be kind and gentle with yourself and others as we are all experiencing different emotional responses.

Taking active steps toward dealing with your feelings can strengthen your resilience and help you persevere. Here are some strategies and resources to help take care of yourself and others:

  • Don’t hold it in: It’s normal to feel sadness, anxiety, fear, anger or a mix of those emotions given the turmoil in our world. It’s important not to hold it all in. Find ways to express your experience. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or support person who can listen and help you feel safe and protected. Or, write or draw it out.
  • Turn it off: 24/7 relentless media coverage can be toxic to your well-being. Constantly checking news feeds or other social media can increase your tension. Set aside specific times to check news and social media. When you do follow the news, stick to reliable sources and avoid rumors or speculation.
  • Get up and get moving: Tragedies can weigh so heavily on us that it makes it hard to move. It’s important to give yourself some activity and some distraction. If you can, the simple act of taking a walk, going to the gym, running some errands or playing a board game with friends can help us cope with tough feelings and feel better.
  • Take care of yourself: Physical health and emotional connectedness can go a long way toward making you feel like yourself again. You will feel better if you get enough sleep, eat healthy, stay hydrated and get regular exercise. Drinking or partying to feel better might seem to help in the very short run but can leave you feeling depleted and lower.
  • Stick to your routine: Maintaining your regular schedule of classes and activities, and taking care of your usual responsibilities can help you feel engaged and reestablish a sense of normalcy and regularity.
  • Turn feelings into action: In addition to expressing your feelings, you may choose to turn them into positive action. Donating goods or volunteering can help you feel better and support the emotional health of others in your community. You may find community with others who are also compelled to action.
  • Look out for your fellow Rams: It’s important to look out for one another. Be particularly aware of warning signs that someone is feeling hopeless or acute distress. The signs could include withdrawing or isolating oneself, not sleeping or sleeping all the time, increased use of drugs and alcohol and taking about death and dying.
If you or someone you know if experiencing signs of distress, please reach out to a campus resource for support:
  • Tell SomeoneA reporting system for anyone with concerns about safety or mental health issues – either your own or someone else’s.  This includes concerns about discrimination and harassment. You can reach the Tell Someone phone line during working hours (or leave a message after hours) at 970-491-1350 or use the online referral form. Call 911 if you believe someone is a threat to themselves or others.
  • CSU Health Network: At the CSU Health Network, we are committed to supporting the health and well-being of all students, and upholding the Principles of Community– Inclusion, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Social Justice. It is our hope that these ideals provide a template for healing.
    • Counseling Services: A welcoming, supportive space in which students can truly be seen and valued in your entirety.  For those whose experiences of marginalization and oppression add extra layers to your distress – you and all of your identities are welcome here. Your counseling fee (part of CSU student fees) provides access to a range of support services. All Counseling Services are currently provided by phone and secure videoconference. Call us at (970) 491-6053, and we’ll work together to find out which services are best for you.
    • Groups and Workshops: Research shows that nearly all people can benefit from group treatment and that group therapy is as effective, if not more effective, than individual therapy. Students can grow and flourish by connecting with others, learning new skills, and taking responsibility for making positive changes in their lives.
    • Facilitated Group Discussion or Skill-Building: A CSU Health Network staff member can facilitate a group discussion or workshop to help process these events, build skills for resilience, deal with stress and improve well-being. Complete the online form to submit your request.
    • YOU@CSU: An online portal to help you get connected to on-campus and online resources. This tool prioritizes your privacy and is available 24/7.
    • SilverCloud Health– online modules based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that are free for students. Now might be the perfect time to boost skills to improve your well-being and manage anxiety and depression, improve your sleep or boost your body image. A variety of self-guided modules can be found on YOU@CSU or on the SilverCloud Health webpage. Some modules may include virtual coaching support, when available.
    • Additional mental health support resources for students
  • Student Case Management: If you are personally impacted by these events, Student Case Management can help you navigate academic, medical or health concerns and offer guidance on resources.


Content adapted from The JED Foundation and American Psychological Association