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As Old Dominion University and the nation prepare for the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the staff of Old Dominion's Office of Counseling Services offers tips on coping with traumatic event anniversaries.

Anniversary reactions to traumatic events are not uncommon and often consist of re-experiencing them at the same time each year as the initial events, said Lenora Hicks Thompson, associate director of counseling services. The thoughts, feelings and physical sensations can be as strong as those experienced during the initial event, she said.

"While some individuals will go through Sept. 11 unaffected, others may experience emotional, cognitive, interpersonal or physical reactions as they relive the event through scheduled local and national memorial programs and media coverage," Thompson said. "It is important to remember that most reactions are normal."

Thompson offers the following tips:

1. Identify your feelings and understand that what you are feeling are normal reactions to an abnormal

2. Talk to friends, family members or clergy about what you are feeling. Sharing your feelings
and concerns can be reassuring and it is OK to ask for help.

3. Take care of yourself by maintaining proper amounts of eating, sleeping and exercise.

4. Make every effort to maintain your usual schedule of daily/weekly activities.

5. Limit your exposure to media coverage. It is OK to turn off the TV or radio. Intensive media
coverage can raise your anxiety level and intensify negative feelings.

6. Remember that our government has taken action to combat terrorism and restore the safety and
security of our nation.

7. Participate in memorial activities and discussions to the degree to which you feel comfortable. These
activities can be helpful for some but distressing to others.

8. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, experience a loss of control or have trouble coping with life
events consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

This article was posted on: September 9, 2002

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

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