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Paris: Finding Comfort in the "City of Lights"

“You can’t be frightened if you are so surprised.”

~Ruth Cope, survivor of the attacks on Pearl Harbor~

Paris is known as the “City of Lights” for many reasons. As I returned from vacation where we had no Wi-Fi or Internet, I was shocked to learn that the lights had been dimmed for a moment.

As I took in the news, I was taken by the stories of bravery, perseverance, kindness and hope.

In particular, while it may seem like a small act of bravery, I was taken by the story of a man who decided to go fishing on the shores of Paris on the morning after the attacks. He intentionally stood there as a symbol of normalcy; he stood there to convince himself that he could go on.

How do we continue in the face of tragedy?

While some of you may have found your healing, some of you may still be seeking a path to wellness and balance in the midst of this or some other tragedy.

This blog offers 5 positive strategies for coping in the midst of tragedy.

(1) Journal

When a difficult life event comes into our lives there may be feelings that are difficult to express or say out loud. Expressing the feelings and thoughts is important and offers a path to healing. Take out a piece of paper and write what you are feeling. Get it out of your head and onto paper - it might be a journal, a piece of looseleaf paper or a document on your computer. Allow yourself to express what you are feeling.

(2) Take a Walk

When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in our brains and reduce our perception of pain and increase our feelings of wellness. A 5-minute or a 30-minute walk or a leisurely walk to the mailbox is literally a positive step forward.

(3) Turn off Media

Take a break from media. Technology has some fantastic benefits. In difficult times, it can put us in more frequent contact with those we love. At the same time, the constant stream of “breaking news” can be dispiriting and can make us feel a range of less-than-positive emotions. It can suck us into a vortex that only requires an intention to get out of it. Take a break. Take a walk in the sunshine. Write a note to a friend who you haven’t talked to in a while. Make cookies for a neighbor. Sit in the grass. Do anything - for a little while - that takes you away and focuses on doing something positive for yourself and/or for another person.

(4) Adopt a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

In Wishes Fulfilled, Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about the importance of the last 5 minutes of the day (just before restful sleep). He says that focusing on thoughts of joy, kindness and gratitude manifest peaceful sleep and more optimistic mindset. Here are some ideas inspired by Dr. Dyer:

*As you fall asleep, review in your mind 3 positive things that happened that day.

*You might also repeat the following mantras: “I am peaceful. I am content. I am well.”

*Remind yourself that “Good things are going to happen.” Wayne Dyer had a sign by the side of his bed and looked at it every night before closing his eyes. He noted that it reminded him that “good things are not only going to happen, but they are happening all around me.”

(5) Channel Your Energy into Positive Acts for Others

My mother had a favorite quote that bewildered me. After she passed away, I discovered it in a box of hand-typed quotes. It read: “Inactivity leads to depression.” (Dag Hammarskjold). At first, I was concerned. Was my mother depressed and I didn’t know it? She always seemed to put on a happy face. As I grow older, I understand that strategically mixing rest with staying busy is a critically important mental health routine. When I feel sad, I try to take a lead from my mom and make an effort not to sit on the couch by myself. Some suggestions? Get out of the house. See friends. Stay busy. Focus on positive acts for others. And most importantly, tell people you love them.

There are no words to express our sadness for the tragedies that have impacted the people of the “City of Lights.” We can take our lead from the brave spirit of the French and do our best to move forward in the face of tragedy. Live life to the fullest - now and every day.

We would also like to share some beautiful music in tribute to the French and their role in the Enlightenment.

A translation of the text is as follows:

Abandon surrounding abandon,

Tenderness touching tenderness…

Your oneness endlessly caresses itself, so they say

Self-caressing through its own clear reflection.

Thus you invent the theme of Narcissus fulfilled.

May you find what you need in this moment and in this day. ~Kathy~

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

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