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Strategies to Help Bear Our Anguish

Strategies to Help Bear Our AnguishAfter the tragic shooting in Newtown Connecticut last Friday, many have good reason to feel anguish, despair and misery.

These events touched many families personally. For those of us not directly affected, they can still leave us with feelings of horror and wanting to hold our loved ones near.

As a nation and as individuals, we could not possibly have anticipated or planned to have to deal with the emotional consequences of such an event. And yet here we are… many of us saddened, enraged and overwhelmed.

In the midst of tragedy and crisis, it can feel as if life is spinning out of control.  An event like this can remind us of devastating events from the past, which in turn can trigger thoughts and emotions connected to our own personal misfortunes and heartbreak.

We can’t change what has happened, but we can use a few strategies can help get through intense painful feelings and do what needs to be done in our daily lives.

  • Turn off the news

    Give yourself permission to take a break from the images, thoughts and emotions related to this tragic event.  As with a car accident, when something terrifying or tragic occurs, we can feel compelled to watch and gather information about the event.  But it’s important to your emotional well-being to get a break from it.

  • Distract yourself

    If you’re plagued by persistent thoughts or painful emotions, try engaging in physical or mental activities that take your mind off of it.  You might try things such as going to a movie, exercising, doing a puzzle or playing a video game.

  • Help others

    One of the most effective ways to feel better is to help others.  Whether it’s volunteering for a charity, watching a neighbors pet or saying kind words to someone else, helping others can improve how you are feeling.

  • Do something opposite to how you’re feeling

    You may be feeling angry, sad or depressed.  Don’t take lightly the impact a pleasant experience can have on your mood and emotions.  Some things you might try include watching a funny TV show, talking to a light-hearted friend or listening to comforting holiday songs or upbeat music.

  • Soothe yourself

    Often when we’re in the midst of painful emotions we neglect to do the things that can make us feel calm and relaxed. You might try lighting a scented candle, baking cookies, wearing soft clothing, putting on a special scented lotion or looking at pictures of loved ones or special times.

When you have good reason to feel bad, it can be hard to regain your equilibrium and get through normal daily activities.  A few simple coping strategies can make a bigger difference than you might expect.

If feelings triggered by the tragic events in Newtown Connecticut are interfering with your ability to function, it’s essential that you employ strategies that will help you bear the moment and get through this difficult time.  These strategies or seeking help from a professional are important.

Strategies to Help Bear Our Anguish

Christy Matta, MA

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of "The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress."

Christy has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in both Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups. Christy blogs regularly for Psych Central at Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood.

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2018). Strategies to Help Bear Our Anguish. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Dec 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.