Managing Your Distress After a Tragic Event

As a university student, you may be struggling to understand how the tragic events of Feb. 13 could take place on a university campus and why such a thing would happen. It is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event.

You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

Talk about it.
Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns.
Free counseling services are available at MSU through Counseling & Psychiatric Services (

Strive for balance.
When tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook.
Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events that are meaningful and comforting,
even encouraging.

Turn it off and take a break.
You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can increase your stress. The images can be very powerful
in reawakening your feeling of distress.

Honor your feelings.
Remember that grief is a long process. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a
physical injury.

Take care of yourself.
Fuel your body with food, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress.

Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including “survivor’s guilt” — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.
It is important to get professional help if you feel you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living. MSU Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides free, remote crisis services 24/7/365.

Call 517-355-8270 and press “1” when prompted to speak with a crisis counselor.