Children at One Family Camp Share Stories of Progress and Recovery
One Family camp gives bereaved children a chance to come together for a week of fun times and exciting activities. It also lets them spend that time processing their loss, sharing their stories, and learning new coping strategies.
To set the tone, this year’s theme was “progress” – exploring how far the children have come in their recovery.
“For many of the children, progress is a very difficult idea. They feel stuck most of the time,” said Ofir Elgrabli, head of the Youth Division. “So we created programs to help them see that they have moved forward and to think about what has helped them in that process.”
That reflection culminated in the Gala Event at the end of camp, when all of the different divisions come together and some of the children stand up and tell their stories. “We are all different ages and come from different backgrounds,” said May, 15, the event’s co-MC, whose father was killed in the Second Lebanon War. “But tonight, all our stories merge into one big story that contains all of our personal stories.”
Ayelet lost her father in the Second Intifada, when she was only 7 months old. “I do not remember my father and for many years I did not allow myself to feel the pain. Because, why would it hurt? Why should I miss someone I do not know? And every time a feeling came, I immediately blocked it. I did not give it space.
“During my time here in One Family, mainly thanks to my friends – some of whom are just like me – I learned to let myself feel. I learned to give my pain a place. I learned that I too was allowed to long for my father even if I don’t quite understand why. I’m allowed to care.”
Shira’s father was killed in a road shooting. “Terrorists ambushed us and fired more than 200 bullets at our vehicle. My father was murdered on the spot. The rest of the family remained unharmed,” she said.
“I will not lie to you, I am surprised that I am standing here talking to you. In my whole life, I never imagined such a situation,” she said. “It’s hard for me to share and translate words that are in my heart. But as I’ve grown, I have come to understand how important it is to express myself, even if it’s difficult. And in my case it is very difficult.”
During the final event, all four Shaer sisters took the stage together to speak about the experience of losing their brother Gilad, one of the three teens who were kidnapped and killed in 2014.
“Over the years I realized that I wanted to really deal with bereavement, to progress in my own way and not just let life pass me by,” one of the sisters said. “In this organization, I learned to speak, to say what’s good, what hurts and what I need – because this place truly makes things possible.
“Everything I say or feel is met with understanding and inclusion,” she continued. “I can just be me in my own way and that’s all anyone wants.”
Ron lost her brother four years ago in Operation Protective Edge. She came to her first camp a short time later, and this year she reflected on the progress she made in those four years.
“I look at Ron then and Ron today, I see two completely different people,” she said. “I arrived shy and closed up. I did not know what bereavement was or how One Family fit into my life.
“Today I’m a more grown up version of Ron, more open, better able to speak from the heart and express an opinion,” she continued. “Most importantly, bereavement is part of me, but not the only part, and I know how to integrate it into life.”
Moriah spoke about the process she went through since her older brother Eliav was murdered two years ago. “When my brother was killed, I thought that if I dealt with bereavement and mourning, I would fall and shatter. I was really scared. I did not want to look weak, so I repressed it and just carried on with my life.”
Things started to change, she said, when she received a phone call from a coordinator from One Family inviting her to join the Youth Division. “I was excited to join One Family. At the same time, I was also afraid,” she said. “I realized that if I went and felt that I belonged here, then it must be that I’m a bereaved sister. I understood I was choosing not to deny the reality anymore.
Still, she said, she was apprehensive about attending her first event, not ready to dive into deep discussions about bereavement. “Gradually, I discovered that here we are simply together, living life, and learning to live with our bereavement. I met others like me, who are dealing with the same thing.
“From the time that I came here, I started to move forward,” she added. “I felt that I may have lost a brother but I gained many brothers and sisters.
“My group has become an inseparable part of me and of my life. For me, this is where it I started to move, to live with the truth without repressing it, to learn how to live with it intensely, and how to transform the pain into growth.
“If in the beginning I thought I had to choose between living and bereavement, today I understand that it all comes together, that slowly we learn to live with the bereavement, and even live well.”
Nature Therapy for Bereaved Fathers to Heal and Bond
Bereaved fathers experienced the healing power of nature therapy in the gorgeous hills of Neot Kedumim in Israel.
Nature therapy is designed to harness the healing power of the natural world. Time spent in outdoor activities has been shown to reduce anxiety, rumination, and negative feelings – maladies that are common among people who have experienced the trauma of losing a child to terror.
It also has the power to bring people together because many of the tasks they were asked to perform could not be done alone but required teamwork and cooperation.
The bereaved father’s herded sheep, built a rope bridge, and practiced archery. They hiked the trails and created stone art with stones that were too heavy for any one person to move on his own. The activities helped them quiet their minds and demonstrated the importance of accepting support from other people.
“Men often find it difficult to seek support, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it,” said one of the psychologists who works with the fathers. “Getting support is always better than going through the process alone.”
In the beauty of the biblical landscape, the message become increasingly clear as the day went on – no one has to cope with his bereavement on his own. Other people understand their pain and are willing to help them cope.
The group dynamics created that day will continue to develop throughout the year, establishing a powerful support network for bereaved fathers that will benefit them for a long time to come.
One Family were privileged to bring over to London for Israel Remembrance Day and Israel Independence Day six young adults, all of whom served recently in the IDF and who unfortunately have become victims of terror.
During their visit they attended various communal events both remembering the fallen and then celebrating 70 years Of Israeli Statehood. They were also invited to a number of schools & societies to tell their stories and to join in with the various ceremonies taking place. A special thank you to the following schools, societies and organisations for their hospitality:
UJS event at JW3
Redbridge Community Centre
Haberdashers Askes Boys School
Michael Sobell Sinai School
Matilda Marks Kennedy School
Independent Jewish Day School
Hasmonean Boys School
Hasmonean Girls School
The London Adani Community
Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Finchley United Synagogue
To view the full gallery of pictures from the Israel 70 Party please CLICK HERE
We received the following messages from some of the schools:
School A – I just wanted to drop you an email to thank you so much for arranging soldiers m to come into school yesterday.I heard that the children really enjoyed listening to them.
School B – Just wanted to say a huge thank you to the soldiers for a wonderful event where they spoke superbly. Please pass them my thanks.
School C – Thank you so much for being our guest in Yom Hazikaron Assembly today. The soldiers were inspirational and their speeches left a high emotional impact on every member of the audience . Your participation in the assembly ensured it’s success and we are ever so grateful to you. Please pass on our gratitude and warmest wishes to both.
The week ended with a huge Israel 70 party where our guests ate, drank and danced the night away. The perfect ending to a very busy week.
Message from Ambassador Mark Regev – Moving ceremony at @JW3London to mark #YomHazikaron, #Israel’s remembrance day for fallen soldiers & victims of terrorism. Many thanks @JewishAgencyUK for organising. After their work was done they visited the sights of London as well as having a few leisure activities in London. We want to thank this special group for sharing their experiences with so many people here in the UK.
Young adults visits London for rehabilitative trip from Israel
On Tuesday, 28th November, 16 young adults, all affected by a terrorist atrocity in Israel, including one who suffered the loss of his father, sister and brother, just this past summer, came together for a very special rehabilitative week in London .
Hosted by families in the Mill Hill & Totteridge area, they will visit all the familiar sites in London with a visit to the Lyceum to see the Lion King too.
Staying with host families makes the experience even greater as they forge friends for life with their hosts . Often, these victims of terror do not know that there are people outside of Israel that care for their wellbeing and this is of great comfort to them.
Each member of the group came to London as strong individuals who have been exposed to terror, yet have chosen to stay positive and choose life despite the bereavement they suffered. This trip enabled the group to get to know each other, as many didn’t know each other well and to be strengthened by the power of being together with people who understand the difficult feelings they have had to cope with following the bereavement of their sibling. The trip literally changes their lives!
Below are images from their amazing week in London.
Wednesday brought more sights of London for our visitors from Israel :
Thursday night our group were hosted for an evening where they spoke about their personal experiences. Everyone in the room was drawn to tears at the bravery of this wonderful group of people. They spoke eloquently about the family they had lost to such awful acts of terrorism.
One of the stories told is below:
My name is Shmuel. I am married and we have a young child. We live in Hadassim youth village in Even Yehuda and are secular but grew up in a religious home.
A few months ago, my family were celebrating a new baby. My wife had given birth to a baby boy! We were all so happy to welcome him to the family and my parents made a celebration at their home in Halamish. It was warm summer’s evening and we were expecting lots of guests to pop by but the happy scene soon turned to devastation when a terrorist infiltrated their home and brutally stabbed them to death. That terrible Friday night, I lost my father Yosef Salomon, 70, my sister Chaya Salomon, 46, and my brother Elad Salomon, 36. My mother Tova, 68, was seriously wounded. We are all trying to be strong and build our lives for the sake of all the children and each other but the pain is immense.
We named our son “Ari Yosef.” We invited all of Israel to participate in our joy “so that the Salomon family will be remembered as happy and joyous and not sad and hurt.”
What our hosts said about the week:
Missing my sons already …. x
Thanks for including us in a very special and rewarding week
Thank you. A really wonderful opportunity to host such a great bunch of people. A great charity. Xx
Can’t thank you enough for asking us to be part of this incredible few days it was such a privilege. Please count us in for any others.
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Coping with daily reports which we read, hear or see on TV is increasingly difficult ,here we outline coping mechanisms which can prove invaluable.
Daily we hear on the news of thousands buried under rubble after an earthquake, countless migrants drowning in the Mediterranean trying to get away from wars to a safer shore, hordes of people in refugee camps with food and water in short supply, children used in the sex trade, police shootings, fires and floods, polar bears drowning from lack of ice flows, and worsening drought in California…and we are assured that these things will only get worse.
Not all the news is really bad, but people are more likely to watch TV or read about some catastrophe somewhere in the world or a robbery in our town than a hopeful story.
Dr Amy Farabaugh writes: “Modern news coverage sometimes focuses on violent, shocking, or disturbing content that is intended to attract attention and generate an emotional reaction in the audience.” So the media follows the dictate: “If it bleeds, it leads,” and spins even neutral stories negatively. All of this may attract readers and viewers, but it is not an accurate picture of the state of our world if it only deals with the negatives.
Bad news has so much power because we have a visceral reaction when we hear or see it, we are literally hit in our gut. Many people get really anxious or depressed when exposed to so much suffering and turmoil. Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate, had a special newspaper printed for him with only good news. Pessimistic people may actually look for depressing or anxiety producing stories to reinforce their views of the world. Even I, though tending to be optimistic, get upset and have a heartache about the suffering, starving, displaced, frightened children in the newspaper photos.
Marian Preble, told the story of two little girls playing in a rose garden, one came running to her mother terribly upset about all the thorns that could prick her fingers, but the other came back all excited about the beautiful roses growing everywhere.
Dr. Richard A. Friedman, clinical psychiatry professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, has found a genetic variation in the brain that makes some people able to cope better with bad news, forgetting bad experiences, while others tend to remember every detail of negative events and perceive them all as having equal weight, so that the loss of a good parking spot seems as terrible as the loss of an heirloom.
Certain announcements (“You’re fired,” “I want to break up,” “There’s been an accident”) have a way of slamming into your life like a wrecking ball. When they do, researchers have discovered a healthy way to cope: a simple technique called self-distancing.
Rather than immersing oneself in the bad news and sinking into obsessive analysis, “self-distancing essentially gives you a psychological time-out,” says Ethan Kross, PhD, “It involves taking a mental step back from a painful episode. You become a fly on the wall, watching yourself in the experience and reflecting on it from a distance.
Meditation is used by many as an antidote to the constant stimuli battering their brains. Coping with bad news by going for a walk, being in nature, and looking at trees were also frequently mentioned. Being part of a support group where problems can be shared is helpful to some. One idea of particular interest is making a rule that for the next meal the conversation cannot touch on medical, family problems or politics. The topics suggested are books one is reading, worthwhile journal articles, and the positive actions one is taking—in other words, talking about ideas, intellectual pursuits, and all the fun stuff.
The way Dr Amy Farabaugh deals with her own sadness of the coming demise of the polar bears is by remembering how evolution works: species come and species go. The polar bears may become extinct, however, some have begun mating with brown bears, so she is looking forward to a whole new species of speckled or striped bears. You cannot do anything about suffering multitudes, but if you turn to the problems of children in the city, you have some leverage by either funding a program or speaking up on behalf of some organisation that is making a difference.
In one experiment, Kross and his colleagues asked students to think of a difficult episode from their past. Those in one group were told to relive the event as if it were happening again; the others were instructed to visualize moving away from the situation to a vantage point where they could watch themselves in the unfolding drama as if it were a video. The self-distancing group not only felt less distressed but registered notably lower blood pressure. “This distancing,” Kross says, “facilitates the ability to work through the event, leading people to have insights that buffer them against future negative reactions. If you ask them to recall the same experience a week later, they don’t become as upset as people who don’t distance. They also ruminate less.”
So focus on what you can control
Discuss the troublesome news with others to try to get a different perspective;
Pay attention to upbeat stories, heroes are everywhere
Look for news of new research
Look at innovations in technology, medicine, design, art, or architecture; meditate; list five things you were grateful for today
Take a walk
Talk to a friend
Listen to music
Whenever bad feelings recur, try distancing
Mentally take a step back so you can visualise yourself in the experience—it’s now happening to the person (you) over there.
Ask why this person is reacting the way she is. (Don’t focus on what happened, or you’ll become overwhelmed with negative feelings.)
As you watch the person go through the event, try to make sense of why they are having these feelings
The story below is featured in the One Family UK Haggadah which is available here
The One Family Haggadah features hand drawn images relating to the Pesach story by pupils from the Sobell Sinai school in north London. There are articles throughout the haggadah featuring the work carried out supporting victims of terror and moving personal victims stories which also relate to the Pesach story.
Aaron, (26), was critically wounded during Operation Cast Lead in 2009 after he and his unit entered a booby-trapped house on the outskirts of Gaza. Aaron was the platoon commander of the 890th paratrooper regiment. Only two days before the start of the operation he had married his beloved wife Tzvia. The morning after the wedding, Aaron’s commander called him and asked him if he could lead his troops into Gaza – Aaron and Tzvia did not hesitate! Aaron left his newlywed wife and joined his soldiers who he would soon lead into battle. On the third day of Operation Cast Lead, Aaron and his troops searched a house in Gaza, which turned out to be booby-trapped. While in the house, the force of the explosion collapsed the building on top of Aaron and two soldiers, who were lightly injured. Aaron, however, suffered critical multiple injuries to his head, face, and chest, while his body took hundreds of pieces of shrapnel. Aaron was air evacuated in critical condition to Beilinson Hospital and was operated on by Dr. Steven Jackson, a senior Neurosurgeon, who operated on Aaron’s penetrating brain injury. Aaron remained in a critical condition and few believed he would survive. Dr. Jackson and his team saved Aaron’s life, and during his three weeks in hospital, Aaron made a miraculous recovery, regaining consciousness. When his condition stabilized he was transferred to Tel Hashomer Rehabilitation Hospital, where he began a long rehabilitation and recovery process that continues till today. As a result of his injuries, Aaron is now confronted with problems such as finding the correct words when he speaks, remembering names, and has difficulties focusing cognitively. However, there was a time when doctors did not think that he would ever speak or walk — let alone live. Aaron frequently says, “To get to where I am despite all the hardships I went through, for me it’s a miracle and divine providence. It is true that there are other difficulties that stand in front of me but I believe that I can move them and move forward. It is important to look at the good things in life and grow out of the difficulty. It is impossible to explain the course of events and difficulties that will always face some of us in life, but it is important to know to continue even when it is hard and it seems impossible.” Over the last four years, Dr. Jackson has operated on Aaron several times, and together they have been trying to improve Aaron’s his motor skills and quality of life. Dr. Jackson and his wife, Yitzchaka a lawyer and paediatric Intensive care nurse, have been helping Aaron with his rehabilitation.
New York Marathon
Yitzchaka, an avid runner, approached Aaron six months ago. She had known him from immediately after his injury and saw a tremendous change in him. Yitzchaka explained to Aaron, that, even though her husband saved his life, he need not give up on future dreams, but he can go further to conquer his challenges. Yitzchaka asked Aaron’s permission to guide him through a new challenge that she was planning to offer him. She approached him with the idea of running together with her on November 3rd, in the N.Y. Marathon, so that Aaron can help and give back and show gratitude to the One Family Fund who has been supporting him since his injury four years ago. OneFamily has helped not only Aaron Karov but also 3500 families across Israel who have been bereaved and injured by acts of terrorism. Despite the physical hardships, Aaron agreed to join the challenge, and after being examined by doctors he was given the green light to run the New York City Marathon. Yitzchaka Jackson has been training Aaron for the last four months, running up to four times a week with him preparing him for the grueling and challenging New York Marathon ahead. Aaron is on a rigorous schedule with the help of a dietician, regular health checks in Wingate Institute,all this in order to prepare him for this upcoming challenge. Let’s help them reach and cross the finish line! This is important so that they can continue to help others by serving as an example of successful rehabilitation despite the effects and damages of terror.
Traumatic stress is a normal reaction to a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, motor vehicle accident, plane crash, shooting, or terrorist attack. Such events are extraordinarily stressful—not just for survivors, but also witnesses and even those repeatedly exposed to the horrific images of the traumatic event circulated on social media and news sources.
In this post we are looking at tips on how to cope with stress. We will learn how to recognise the signs of stress ,what traumatic stress is and how to get help if you are suffering from stress.
In fact, while it’s highly unlikely any of us will ever be the direct victims of a terrorist attack, for example, we’re all regularly bombarded by disturbing images from around the world of those innocent people who have been. Viewing these images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system and create traumatic stress. Your sense of security shatters, leaving you feeling helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world, especially if the event was man-made, such as a shooting or act of terrorism. Whether or not you were directly impacted by the traumatic event, it’s normal to feel anxious, scared, and uncertain about what the future may hold.
Usually, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress fade as life starts to return to normal over the days or weeks following the event.
You can assist the process by keeping the following in mind:
People react in different ways to traumatic events. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond.
Don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.
Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event.
Repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly
Ignoring your feelings will slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not.
Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.
We are now all seeing and hearing harrowing stories from Syria and these can effect in ways we are not expecting as well as those mentioned above.
Recent headlines remind psychologists of the anxiety and fear that a terror attack brings to local residents and those viewing the news thousands of miles away. When an attack happens news stations often show visuals from past attacks in the same region of the world or by the same terror group, which can add to the stress that the viewer experiences. A recovering victim can be affected by news clips of the attack that they were originally affected by many years later. Israel faces terror attacks daily although they are not always reported, we in the UK as well as in Israel are often tuned into social networks which report the attacks with newsflashes.
Suicide bombers and shootings in Paris -‘We fell to the floor and crawled over bodies’: British survivors of Bataclan massacre tell how they escaped ISIS gunmen as a Briton and an American are revealed to be among first victims of Paris attacks that killed 129 – The Daily Mail
“We will not be intimidated, and we will not live in fear,” – is a regular statement from politicians worldwide.
The point of terrorism is to terrify, public officials often say this in these situations, so the best reaction is to go about your lives.
But what if you’re still anxious?
Terrorism’s unpredictable nature instils people with anxiety over the lack of control in their fate, Anne Marie Albano, a clinical psychologist and the director of the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, said in an interview.
“It’s becoming sort of everyday life” Dr Albano said, “knowing that we cannot predict with good accuracy at all when something may happen.”
If you’re feeling anxious, here are a few ways to cope:
Compare your fear with the facts.
Limit your exposure to social media and the media.
It is natural to want to follow along with incremental updates on social media and in the news. But it’s important to know that this can heighten your anxiety.
Designating times to plug into the news — checking Twitter in the morning over coffee, but not listening to the radio while driving your kids to school, for instance — can help you manage anxiety if you are feeling stressed.
This will help you balance a realistic and credible threat with information that is sensationalised, Dr Albano said, “or a rush to report something or talk about something that doesn’t have the impact that you would think it has.”
Breathe – Easy to say ……
A guide to dealing with terrorism released by the FBI encourages closing your eyes and taking deep breaths to feel calmer. Taking a walk or talking to a close friend can also help.
They also recommend avoiding alcohol and drugs, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods — basic self-care guidelines that help reduce stress. However, alcohol and drugs are something we are drawn to in order to take away the anxiety.
Traumatic stress signs and symptoms
Following a traumatic event, it’s normal for your nervous system to become overwhelmed by stress and to feel a wide range of intense emotions and physical reactions. These reactions to traumatic stress often come and go in waves. There may be times when you feel jumpy and anxious, and other times when you feel disconnected and numb.
Normal physical responses to traumatic events
It’s important to know what the physical symptoms of traumatic stress look like, so they don’t scare you. They will go away if you don’t fight them:
Trembling or shaking
Lump in throat; feeling choked up
Stomach tightening or churning
Feeling dizzy or faint
While these are all normal responses to a traumatic event, if the symptoms don’t ease up and your nervous system remains “stuck,” unable to move on from the event for a prolonged period of time, you may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Normal emotional responses to traumatic events
Shock and disbelief – you may have a hard time accepting the reality of what happened
Fear – that the same thing will happen again, or that you’ll lose control or break down
Sadness – particularly if people you know died
Helplessness – the sudden, unpredictable nature of terrorist attacks, accidents, or natural disasters may leave you feeling vulnerable and helpless
Guilt – that you survived when others died, or that you could have done more to help
Anger – you may be angry at God or others you feel are responsible
Shame – especially over feelings or fears you can’t control
Relief – you may feel relieved that the worst is over, and even hopeful that your life will return to normal
Signs of stress
lt’s been six weeks, and you’re not feeling any better
You’ve having trouble functioning at home and work
You’re experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
You’re having an increasingly difficult time connecting and relating to others
You’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings
You’re avoiding more and more things that remind you of the disaster or traumatic event
Create a plan with your family
It’s a good idea to draft a plan that details how you’ll get in contact with your family if something happens. Keeping in mind that you probably will never need to put this into action.
If you have children, it’s recommended to ask them how they are feeling about the news. Keep in mind that it is possible for children to be influenced by news reports and adult conversations. Keep your daily routine.
Dr Albano said that a primary worry in the field of psychology is people “going out of their way to be so safe that it shrinks their world.
“Terrorists thrive on this kind of thing,” she added. “They want to see the population change their practices.”
It’s advisable to keep a routine that enables you to meet people who don’t look like you, people who you wouldn’t otherwise know that way you aren’t so scared of new encounters.
Dr Albano praised the people of Paris for returning to cafes.
“That was a message to us from Giuliani after 9/11,” she recalled. ‘Get back to the ballgames. Get out there. Let’s go”
Traumatic stress recovery tip 1: Minimise media exposure
While some survivors or witnesses to a traumatic event can regain a sense of control by watching media coverage of the event or by observing the recovery effort, others find the reminders can be further traumatising. Excessive exposure to images of a disturbing event —such as repeatedly viewing video clips on social media or news sites—can even create traumatic stress in people not directly affected by the event.
Limit your media exposure to the traumatic event. Don’t watch the news or check social media just before bed, and refrain from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.
Try to avoid distressing images and video clips. If you want to stay up-to-date on events, read the newspaper rather than watching television or viewing video clips of the event.
If coverage makes you feel overwhelmed, take a complete break from the news. Avoid TV and online news and stop checking social media for a few days or weeks, until your traumatic stress symptoms ease up and you’re able to move on.
Tip 2: Accept your feelings
Traumatic stress can cause you to experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, including shock, anger, and guilt. These emotions are normal reactions to the loss of safety and security (as well as life, limb, and property) that comes in the wake of a disaster. Accepting these feelings and allowing yourself to feel what you feel, is necessary for healing.
Dealing with the painful emotions of traumatic stress
Give yourself time to heal and to mourn any losses you’ve experienced.
Don’t try to force the healing process.
Be patient with the pace of recovery.
Be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.
Learn to reconnect to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
Tip 3: Challenge your sense of helplessness
Overcoming traumatic stress is all about taking action. Positive action can help you overcome feelings of fear, helplessness, and hopelessness—and even small acts can make a big difference.
Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. As well as helping you to connect to others, volunteering can challenge the sense of helplessness that contributes to trauma.
If formal volunteering sounds like too much of a commitment, remember that simply being helpful and friendly to others can deliver stress-reducing pleasure and challenge your sense of helplessness. Help a neighbour carry in their groceries, hold a door open for a stranger, share a smile with the people you meet during the day.
Connect with others affected by the traumatic event or participate in memorials, events, and other public rituals. Feeling connected to others and remembering the lives lost or broken in the event can help overcome the sense of hopelessness that often follows a tragedy.
Tip 4: Get moving
It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re experiencing traumatic stress, but exercising can burn off adrenaline and release feel-good endorphin’s to boost your mood. Physical activity performed mindfully can also rouse your nervous system from that “stuck” feeling and help you move on from the traumatic event.
Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, or dancing—are good choices.
To add a mindful element, focus on your body and how it feels as you move. Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin.
Rock climbing, boxing, weight training, or martial arts can make it easier to focus on your body movements—simply because if you don’t, you could get injured.
If you’re struggling to find the energy or motivation to exercise, start by playing your favourite music and moving around or dancing. Once you get moving, you’ll start to feel more energetic.
Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more each day—or if it’s easier, three 10-minute spurts of exercise are just as good.
Tip 5: Reach out to others
You may be tempted to withdraw from friends and social activities following a traumatic event, but connecting face to face with other people is vital to recovery. The simple act of talking face to face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve traumatic stress. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm your nervous system. Reaching out to others doesn’t necessarily mean talking about the traumatic event. Comfort comes from feeling connected and involved with others you trust.
Do “normal” things with friends and loved ones, things that have nothing to do with the event that triggered your traumatic stress.
If you live alone or your social network is limited, it’s never too late to reach out to others and make new friends.
Take advantage of support groups, church gatherings, and community organizations. Join a sports team or hobby club to meet people with similar interests.
Tip 6: Make stress reduction a priority
While a certain amount of stress is normal, and even helpful, as you face the challenges that come in the aftermath of a disaster or tragic event, too much stress will get in the way of recovery.
Relieve stress in the moment
Mindful breathing. To quickly calm yourself in any situation, simply take 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each out breath.
Sensory input. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
Feel grounded in times of traumatic stress
Sit on a chair, feel your feet on the ground, and your back supported by the chair; look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue in them. This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer. Alternately, you may want to go outdoors and find a peaceful place to sit on the grass, and feel supported by the ground.
Make time to relax
Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi.
Schedule time for activities that bring you joy—a favourite hobby or pastime, a chat with a cherished friend.
Use your downtime to relax. Read a book, take a bath, or enjoy an uplifting or funny movie.
Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep places considerable stress on your mind and body and makes it more difficult to maintain your emotional balance. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours sleep each night.
Re-establish a routine—structure is comforting
There is comfort in the familiar. After a traumatic event, getting back to your normal routine as much as possible will help you minimize stress.
Even if your work or school routine is disrupted, structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, exercising, and spending time with friends.
Do things that keep your mind occupied (read, watch a movie, cook, and play with your kids), so you’re not dedicating all your attention to the traumatic event.
Tip 7: Eat a healthy diet
The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with traumatic stress. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of traumatic stress while eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with the ups and downs that follow a tragic event.
By experimenting with new ways of eating that boosts mental health, you can find an eating plan that not only helps to relieve traumatic stress, but also boosts your energy and improves your outlook.
What next – When to seek treatment for traumatic stress
To conclude stress can affect anyone,anywhere whether they have been involved in a traumatic experience or read about or even watched it unfold on the news. It is key to act as soon as you feel that you have been affected by events and can no longer deal with the effect on your own. Call a doctor and talk it out with them, seek advice as soon as possible. There are many organisations that can help, but you doctor should be the first stop.
Usually, feelings of anxiety, numbness, confusion, guilt, and despair following a disaster or traumatic event will start to fade within a relatively short time. However, if your traumatic stress reaction is so intense and persistent that it’s getting in the way of your ability to function, you may need help from a mental health professional—preferably a trauma specialist.
One Family is more than just an organisation, we are family. As a family, we provide ongoing support with a personal and caring touch.
Our work begins at the moment of the attack – through rehabilitation, long after the headlines fade – as long as they need us.
We forge a sense of family among all the victims through support groups, retreats, camps and other programs, fostering an environment of mutual emotional and psychological support.
Traumatic stress is one of the main problems that we at One Family are working with on a daily basis.
If you have been a victim of a terror attack in Israel then we are your family at One Family
Bringing Happiness through flowers to victims of terror
Throughout the summer months, Sophie Vardi, One Family’s UK liaison coordinator, brought happiness to many victims of terror in her therapeutic Floral workshops. Sophie explained that research has been carried out to prove that flowers are beneficial for well-being and healing. In her first summer workshop held in honour of Shavout, 30 bereaved woman learned to make a colorful centerpiece, using roses (flowers of everlasting love), baby breath (flowers of friendship); liasanthus (flowers of hope) and chrysanthemum (flowers of everlasting memories). The event was also attended by Laraine Harris, UK joint vice chair, who said “ It was fantastic! All the ladies were captivated throughout and thoroughly enjoyed the event!”
As part of summer activities for the Youth Division, Sophie made flower crowns at the Gala evening in Modiin. She also ran a similar workshop for children attending the One Family Summer day Evening of the summer camp using paper and plastic bags that were donated by shops in camp.
Finally, as part of a relaxing retreat for injured victims of terror from the recent wave of terror, Sophie ran her flower crown workshop to providing an afternoon of creative therapeutic activity.
Chani Ben-Izri who was injured by a Grad Missile during Operation Protective Edge said “the workshop brought me so much happiness and relaxation. I love flowers and was so excited to be part of this. Sophie chose specific flowers for each person making sure the flowers brought the light out in each and everyone’s face. It was amazing!”
Therapy sessions help victims of terror from all across Israel at the two One Family centres weekly.
One Family’s structure of assistance is based on victims’ assistance centers located in three locations throughout the country. Our Ra’anana VictimsCenter serves victims and families from the central region of Israel. It is directed by Nava Formansky, whose warm personality and creativity are put to constant use in brightening the lives of the victims in the region.
She is joined in her work by three women who are themselves victims of terror, and who each contribute their special talents and perspectives to the programs and activities coordinated by the One Family Center.
The One Family Center in Ra’anana serves as a social and therapeutic meeting place for terror victim families. This is the place where they come to dispel the isolation that they feel in their day-to-day lives. This is the place where they all benefit from a guiding and supportive embrace. The One Family Center offers a wide variety of activities, workshops and therapeutic treatments from various disciplines, including artistic workshops, jewelry making, cooking, yoga, physical training programs, and individual therapy treatments such as shiatsu, Chinese acupuncture, reflexology, guided imagery and Bach flower remedies, as well as individual and couples counseling with our staff psychologist.
One Family invites those victims who are having the most difficulty dealing with their physical and/or psychological circumstances to take part in intensive therapy workshops. These workshops last three days and employ professionals in various types of therapy in order to help victims on the path to recovery.
One Family’s emotional therapy program brings together psychologists, social workers, expressive therapists, creative therapists, and body and soul therapists. Individual treatment takes place at One Family’s activity centres, and when necessary at the victims’ homes.
Terror Victims Refresh Body and Soul at Water Park
Water park visits refreshes terror victims – “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” goes the famous show tune. But that sentiment doesn’t ring so true for many residents of Israel’s southern region who suffered the brunt of Israel’s three wars with Hamas.
So with summer temperatures reaching a peak and children’s vacation feeling endless – for the parents and the children – there couldn’t be a better time for One Family’s annual visit to Yamit 2000, one of the biggest and most popular water parks in Israel.
This week, 415 victims of terror and their families spent the day keeping cool by the pool, sliding through thrilling water slides, running through a host of water-based activities for kids, or just relaxing in the shade. It was a day of family fun, a break from routine, and a time to reconnect with old friends in a comfortable and friendly setting.
Most importantly, it was a day to leave behind the daily medley of thoughts and fears that continue to haunt so many who have been hurt by Hamas’s rockets, or live with those who have been injured.
Another Rocket Falls on Sderot
The timing, in fact, turned out to be even better than planned, particularly for residents of Sderot who took part in the visit. Just two days earlier, yet another rocket from the Gaza Strip landed on the town, sending sirens ringing and forcing the residents back into shelters once again.
For those who lived through the many rocket attacks of the past decade, and especially those who suffered injuries from them, the episode brought back so many traumatic memories.
Katy Alyasi, who was injured in a rocket attack in 2014, said everyone in Sderot relives the experience every time they hear the Red Alert siren. “The children were born into trauma,” she said. “Each day, they ask ‘will there be an alarm today?’ as though they are preparing themselves for the possibility of more rockets.
“That’s how it’s been, and that’s how it will be in the future in Sderot.” A day at the water park with One Family, she said, takes people out of that cycle and gives them a respite from the stress and fear.
Raymond Zarviv, who was wounded in a rocket attack on Sderot in 2009, said he makes a point of bringing the family for the “fun day” with One Family every year. “The children get a break from the tension,” he said.
One Family Means Hope and Caring
Sigal and 3-year-old Tahel at Yamit 2000. Sigal was nearly killed in a stabbing attack in 1995. Tahel suffered serious burns on her back from a firebomb thrown at her car in January.
For many families, particularly large families, a visit to Yamit 2000 is simply impossible both because of the cost and the organization that would be required to bring everyone to Holon for the day.
Sigal Sofer, a mother of seven, said a family outing of this kind was “practically a new mortgage” and was grateful for the respite. “It’s a chance to refresh and not sit at home with my thoughts running through my head,” she said.
In 1995, Sigal was almost killed in a vicious stabbing attack a few weeks after giving birth to her second child. Twenty years later, terrorists threw a firebomb at her near Beit El. Sigal’s three-year-old daughter Tahel was badly burned on her back from the attack.
Sigal said she looked behind her and saw little Tahel in flames. “I’ve been through a stabbing but nothing is worse than seeing your child on fire,” she said.
Bat El and two of her children. In 2006, a rocket struck her caravan, wounding her oldest child.
Two other children, 10 and 12, were also burned in the attack and Sigal burned her hand trying to put the flames out.
The firebombing, she said, brought back all of the memories of her first brush with terror. But there was a big difference the second time, she said. “This time, we have One Family, and now there are people who take notice of us,” she said.
Another mother named Sigal came with her husband and five children, one of whom was hurt in a rocket attack in 2009 when he was seven years old. The family had spent 23 days in a shelter, and on the day they ventured out, another rocket struck. The family did not have enough time to get back to the shelter.
She said the boy, Aviv, has not recovered emotionally from the attack. He continues feel intense anxiety and has trouble sleeping at night. He cannot be left alone and needs someone with him around the clock.
“Here we can have some inner peace, away from our routine,” she said. “You’re around people sitting and smiling. Not tense at home in front of the TV”.