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HR Handled Right

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I almost ran over a lady at a crosswalk. I forgot a doctor’s appointment and yelled at my six year old for no reason. And during a weight class at my gym, I started crying. When I was a clinician in private practice, I would have been concerned about a serious depression if a therapy client had reported these events to me during a session. Yesterday, they were normal.

All of us were traumatized by yesterday’s events. For companies who lost employees, or for employees who lost friends or loved ones, the emotional aftermath is just beginning. Human resource professionals may find themselves overwhelmed by their own grief as they struggle to help their managers and employees cope with their sadness, anger and disbelief. Get help.

Nothing can take the pain away, but there are steps you can take now that will help mitigate the emotional impact of yesterday’s trauma and help accelerate the recovery of those who are most impacted. Yesterday’s terrorism was an experience outside the realm of normal human experience, and as such, is likely to cause extreme stress reactions in normal, healthy people. Nightmares, poor concentration, tearfulness, fearfulness, and anger are normal, temporary reactions to an abnormal event. The sooner your employees have a chance to talk about what happened, understand the normal reactions to extreme stress, and identify ways to help them cope, the sooner the healing will begin.

Call your employee assistance program or local psychological association. Offer places for employees to talk about what happened – as a group and individually. Have brown bag presentations on critical stress and how to cope with it. Make sure you have plenty of referral sources handy for those who need individual attention. Counsel your managers on stress reactions and encourage them to contact you if an employee seems to be in trouble. And, most importantly, take care of yourself.

Thirteen Ways To Get Through The Rest of the Week

1. Within the first 24-48 hrs, periods of strenuous physical exercise, alternated with relaxation, can help alleviate some of the physical reactions

2. Structure your time–keep busy.

3. Reach out and talk to people.

4. Be aware of the potential problem of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol

5. Maintain as normal a schedule as possible

6. Spend time with others. Help your co-workers as much as possible by sharing your feelings and checking out how they are doing

7. Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others

8. Keep a journal, write your way through those sleepless hours

9. Do things that make you feel good

10. Realize that you are under stress. Remember that unusual symptoms are normal – don’t try to fight them and remind yourself that they will lessen over time.

11. Don’t make any big life changes

12. Do make as many daily decisions as possible. Doing this will give you a feeling of control over your life. i.e. if someone asks you what you want to eat–answer them even if you are not sure

13. Get plenty of rest and eat well-balanced meals (even if you don’t feel like it).

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