Sarah Sultan – Trauma Special – How To Cope With The New Zealand Mosque Shooting Tragedy

Sarah Sultan
AI: Summary © The New Zealand Muslim community experiences trauma and anxiety due to lack of control and fear, leading to stress and anxiety. Representatives and therapists should use "immediate feeling" as a response, staying active to stay aware of potential risks, and grounding oneself in a situation of fear or anxiety. The use of body language and movement and control over one's body can help alleviate stress, preventing further trauma from spreading.
AI: Transcript ©
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Bismillah salatu salam ala Rasulillah while and he was up here on Manuela, and my God as salaam alaikum wa Rahmatullah when I get to the societal time here with European Institute.

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So Mr alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh. This is National Award, one of the fellows at European Institute. And today we're going to be talking about what everybody has been talking about the shootings in New Zealand, just that surge of emotions, the fear, the sadness, the grief, and what we can be doing as individuals, as families and communities to help cope with what's going on. Right, absolutely. And, you know, the what happened in New Zealand is nothing short of a tragedy. And it's definitely something that is incredibly traumatic for the Muslim community at large. And so anything that you might be experiencing right now, in terms of fear anxiety, hypervigilant, is completely

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normal, you might be afraid to go to the masjid today for Jamaat prayers, you might be afraid to send your kids to school, after spring break is done, when they might be attending an Islamic school or even a school within a masjid. You might be worried about walking outside your door with hijab, and all of that anxiety and all of that fear is completely normal. So don't be hard on yourself, because of the fact that you're experiencing that.

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Yes, absolutely. And so today, we want to talk about the the what happened within the context of trauma, because it's important to know why we feel the way that we do so we can better cope with what's been going on. So generally, when there is a trauma or something really catastrophic, people fall into one of three categories. They can go into fight mode, where they want to take action, they want to move their bodies, they might feel agitated, or they just feel like they're on the go, and they can't stop. The second data category of people are the people who go into flight mode, meaning they tend to run away from the situation they want to get out. And this could be getting out from

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from the community or from the house is just wanting to isolate. And the last one is freezing. It's just being paralyzed and not knowing what to do.

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Right. Absolutely. I think one of the things that a common theme even though all of these sound really different. One of the things that's a common theme is that when we are in this really stressful mode of fight, flight or freeze, we can't process the emotions of what we're experiencing, right? We don't allow ourselves to grieve. We don't allow ourselves to feel the sadness, the overwhelming sadness that comes with news like this, right. And so one thing like measure was mentioning is that this is something that is a response to trauma. And I think a lot of times people don't realize that trauma doesn't have to just impact us if we have been within that situation. So

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we weren't living in the US, we were 1000s of miles away from New Zealand. But we can still experience some of the trauma through something called vicarious trauma, where even though we were not in that messenger, even though we may not have known anybody personally, who experienced the tragic events that happened yesterday, we can still feel traumatized in that we naturally tend to visualize that this is our local masjid, that the people who were shot imagining that the person sitting next to you at the message during Jamaat is in this type of situation, that in and of itself, that imagery and the visualization of something like that happening in our local masjid,

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that in and of itself can be incredibly traumatic. And that's called vicarious trauma.

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Yeah, absolutely. It's almost like secondhand smoke, you're not the one smoking but you still feel the effects of it. And so, yeah, and so knowing this and exercising self compassion, not feeling bad, that you feel a certain kind of way about it helps a tremendous amount. So sort of what are some of the things that you do with your clients when they're experiencing some of these feelings of trauma? That's a great question. And I do this with my clients and also with myself when, when something like this happened to my anxiety levels go up or my clients anxiety levels go up.

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One thing that I find really helpful is to realize that even though our anxiety levels are up in our bodies might be experiencing the stress response of anxiety, your heart might be beating faster, you might find yourself sweating or feeling a little bit shaky and, and worried in that way. That in reality, in the situation that you're in here watching this video, you are safe, right? There's no impending physical danger, even though your body is responding to the thought of potential physical danger and that's what anxiety is right? And so realizing that the lungs that are going through that your lungs are breathing in the air, that that are going through your nostrils in your mouth, that

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your your feet are grounded on the floor, which is very firm, that your eyes can scan the environment for whatever

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surround you, right. And all of these are signs and and capabilities that are from pulis path data that indicate that we are safe and that he is our protector. And he's the one who's safeguarding us in this very situation, right. So realizing that, and that's something called grounding, that can be very helpful in alleviating the stress response. The other thing that I find really helpful when working with clients, and also for myself, is the idea of empowerment, right? When we are feeling fearful or anxious in certain situations, a lot of times our fears dictate our actions, right. And so instead of going forward, taking one step forward, and one foot in front of the other, going out

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the door, for example, to the restaurant, or wherever we you know, living our lives and the way we want to live our lives. Instead of doing that, we tend to avoid that, because that's what the fear within our system is telling us to do. And when we do that, we give more power to the fear, or to a circumstance of worries about what could happen in a potential situation, or in this situation, to the shooters who perpetrated this tragedy, versus empowering ourselves and always realizing that the ultimate power belongs to a less past data, right. And so empowering ourselves and being able to take action, and to move forward with our lives, despite the fear that we're experiencing can be

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something really invigorating.

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What are what are, what are some things that you do with your clients in in situations like this, to help them to cope with trauma?

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Great tips, by the way. So some of the things that I like to do is, I think it's really important to be able to talk about it with other people, with family members with friends. But talking is just one component. And another thing that in the trauma literature, they say, it's really important to do is to stay active. And this kind of dismantled the whole flight, flight freeze response, because it with all those things, when it makes you want to do

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is kind of just is shut down. And you might think well fighting is not necessarily a way of shutting down, but there is some level of a paralysis of just not knowing what to do. And so looking back at what methods have been used in the past, like with war veterans, when a tsunami happened a while ago,

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they found that when therapists went and they just talked about some of these traumatic events, it only went so far. But when they integrated movement, what what they found was that people started to heal. And so what is movement, it can be whatever works for you, going back to those categories of fight, flight or freeze response is that, you know, paying attention to how it impacts you personally, and then doing the coping skill to best suit you. So for example, if you are one of those people in the in the fight response, it's important to take that physical energy and channel it in constructive ways. So if you're athletic, maybe going for a run, if if not, you can journal

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because movement using your hand is is a form of movement. So it is kind of like looking at whatever works best for you being able to get those feelings out. Because trauma stays on the on the mind, but also on the body. So getting those feelings out, but then also using our bodies to let go of those feelings, those pent up feelings that we have.

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I think those are really excellent suggestions. Mashallah, just always encouraging that action, right? I think that's excellent. Mashallah, can I add just one really important thing. So they found one time there was an animal in the wild that was attacked, and the he played dead. And then afterwards, the predator went away, and he kind of came up. And so what happened after that, the researchers were fascinated, the animal just started shaking. And there and so they looked further into this. And they found out that he was, what they analyzed, was that he was shaking the trauma off his body. And I just thought that was a very important point to make that how important movement

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is in terms of getting that trauma out. So just reiterating your point, reiterating your point about the the action part. And it really empowers like you said, being able to not just sit still, but to go out there

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really helps a tremendous amount. Absolutely. And to take control over your body and over the trauma that has kind of embedded itself within your body and excimer Shama does everyone else and everybody for joining us for these two minutes. We asked illustrata to to bestow his mercy on the victims of the New Zealand shooting, and grant patients in strength to their families and loved ones and to protect our community and all communities from tragedies like this

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So Michael I'm having issues with the antenna suffer too we like I said I'm on a corner to my family

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