Yes, You Are Affected by What You See and Hear You live in a time with unending access to sources of information. This is awesome because you have the answers to almost any question in your head at any hour of the day! Can’t remember how much minced garlic to substitute for garlic powder? You can find the answer. Want to know how much a whale weighs? You can find the answer. Wondering what day and time the next season of your favorite show starts? You can find the answer. However, this is also problematic due to potential exposure to traumatic events repeatedly through your information sources. In fact, hearing about the traumatic experiences of others can result in secondary trauma for you. Learning about the details of a school shooting, the death of a child by neglectful caretakers, or the vicious murder of a university student can cause significant emotional duress. Seeking out additional details and/or reading about the information through a variety of sources can overload your brain’s ability to effectively cope. Even when you aren’t directly impacted by the tragic events, you can experience trauma reactions such as intrusive thoughts, feeling a lack of control, decreased feeling of safety, changes in your worldview, irritability, sleep disturbance, or even hopelessness. It makes sense that you want to seek out more information because facts can be the antidote to fear. Getting more information often decreases feelings of anxiety and increases feelings of control. However, repeatedly exposing yourself to details of the choices of the dark side of humanity can do the opposite. This is especially true for children who have less developed neurological and emotional abilities to cope and may show an increase in problematic behaviors, regression in their development, or physical symptoms of anxiety and stress. The two best ways to prevent or combat secondary trauma for yourself and those you care about. 1. Limit Your Screen Time and Conversations Set a timer on your phone to limit your scrolling, choose your favorite 2 or 3 news programs to watch, or even take a day off from seeking any information. Contain your conversations about the traumatic events to a limited amount of time or make the dinner table off limits for those discussions. Avoid discussions around children and only provide developmentally appropriate information or answers. 2. Have Fun and Play! Find opportunities to be present and enjoy life! Attend a local event, read a nonfiction book, play a game, or make a favorite food. It’s not the specific activity you choose that’s important, it’s your participation in life. Being playful will increase your connections to others and your hopefulness. Being in the present moment decreases anxiety and intrusive thoughts, stress symptoms in your body, and irritability. If you are struggling with life stressors, self esteem, relationships, family conflict, or other challenges, contact Jolie for individual, couples, family counseling, or life coaching. Jolie also provides workshops for professional or personal development or continuing education as well as clinical supervision and coaching for counselors, social workers, and other professionals.