Vegas Strong Resiliency Center offers tips to survivors as July - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Vegas Strong Resiliency Center offers tips to survivors as July Fourth approaches

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Fireworks explode above the Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher) Fireworks explode above the Strip. (AP Photo/John Locher)

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center released tips to help survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting prepare for any potential emotional or psychological impacts resulting from the sound of fireworks. 

“Many of those who were at the Route 91 festival have described the onset of the shooting as sounding like fireworks,” said Terri Keener, a licensed clinical social worker and Behavioral Health Coordinator at the Resiliency Center. “Over the July Fourth holiday, the sound of fireworks may be a startling reminder of that night for many survivors.  Reactions could cause flashbacks, anxiety, and feelings of embarrassment about these reactions if they occur in front of others.” 

According to a release, mental health professionals recommend that family and friends form a support system for those individuals affected by the sound of fireworks.

“It’s important to be understanding, supportive and flexible,” said Dr. Megan Freeman, a licensed psychologist with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child and Family Services.

Officials are encouraging residents in the Valley to be respectful and mindful of their neighbors and surrounding areas as they celebrate the holiday. A list of suggestions was released to help affected individuals:

  • Recognize your triggers ahead of time.  Talk with family and friends about how you might react or what is worrying to you. 
  • Make a plan for coping with a reaction.  Engage others who support you and communicate to them when you are beginning to feel uncomfortable.
  • Use noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs.
  • Consider using alternatives to typical fireworks such as sparklers.
  • If you are going to a gathering, stay near exits and have a plan for coping with feelings of stress or anxiety that may occur.  Try to calmly remove yourself from the situation by taking a short walk, getting a drink of water, or washing your hands.
  • Additional tips for coping with stress and anxiety include:
  • Take a time-out. Practice yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, or read. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
  • Be physically active.  Find an activity or sport that you interests you.  Even short walks or dancing can help you feel good and maintain your health.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. 
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Try some grounding techniques to connect you to the here and now.  Focus on the details present in your surroundings or on neutral physical sensations. Count something that you notice such as trees, people with hats, or floor tiles.  Notice the colors that you see, or the flavors that you taste.
  • Talk to someone.  Let others know when you are feeling overwhelmed and how they can help. 
  • Distract yourself. Use a personal device to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or music.
  • Connect with others.  Visit a peaceful place or attend a support group.  Spend time with someone who you trust and are comfortable with. 

A support group for Route 91 survivors and family member meets every Tuesday from 6 pm. to 7 p.m. at Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, 3247 S. Maryland Pkwy. A group also meets the first Tuesday of the month, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Nathan Adelson Hospice Center for Compassionate Care, 4131 Swenson St. Both groups are free, a release said. 

For more information, contact the Resiliency Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. through Fri. at 702-455-2433 or toll-free number at 833-299-2433. 

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