All of us were probably pretty surprised and relieved when President Obama delivered the recent news that Osama Bin Laden was killed. Almost 10 years after the horrendous attacks on 9-11, there's no doubt that it's a monumental moment in U.S. history. But while we may all be relieved — maybe even a bit happy — Bin Laden's death may also be stirring up quite a bit of unhealthy emotion in many Americans.
We recently chatted with Dr. Jeff Gardere, who is best known as "America’s Psychologist" and is an expert in the mental health field. As a resident of New York City, he was affected by the events on 9-11 and has emotional health advice for Americans — whether they personally knew someone lost in the attacks or not. Read on for his five tips to cope with emotions during times like these.
5 Tips to Keep Your Emotional Health Healthy
1. Know that mixed emotions are normal. While many probably felt happy at the news that Bin Laden had been killed, they may be feeling guilty or just off now, Dr. Gardere says. "Deep down inside, Americans don't celebrate a killing," he says. "They may be glad it happened, but it's with a mixture of sadness that this is how the world is." Move past this by being aware of your emotions and accepting them, he says.
2. Celebrate life. While Bin Laden's death means closure for a number of people — especially those who lost a loved one on 9-11 — in no way does it completely heal someone from losing a person they loved. So instead of focusing on the killing of Bin Laden, Dr. Gardere recommends that people should celebrate and remember the lives of those who were lost.
3. Redirect energy from anxiety to empowerment. Many of us may be worried or scared about retaliation attacks on the United States. While this fear may be real, it does no good to obsess about it. Instead, redirect your energy to telling those close to you that you love them and being more aware of your surroundings and environment. Don't let it stop you from living your life, Dr. Gardere says.
4. Pray or open up the conversation. If you're spiritual, praying with others can be a restorative way to improve your emotional health along with others'. If praying isn't your thing, gather with others to discuss your experiences, thoughts and feelings, he says.
5. Accept this brave new world. No one lives in a world that is 100 percent safe all of the time. Accepting that we live in this "brave new world," means recognizing anxiety and fear as normal — without letting it overwhelm you, Dr. Gardere says.
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.