August 11-12, 2017, was a traumatic time for our community, and for many residents, Aug. 11 and 12 have been part of a long history of community trauma. As Charlottesville works to address its difficult history, individuals and the community on the whole face an opportunity to learn, grow and heal.

Anniversaries are a time to focus on healing and recovery, both at the individual and the community level. This year, the City of Charlottesville and local residents are marking the anniversary of Aug. 12 through Unity Days , a series of events that educate, inspire and honor people in our community in order to move towards economic and racial justice. Unity Days events throughout the summer and over the anniversary weekend, instead, focus our attention on moving forward, building community resilience and working for change.

As we reflect on how to move forward to learn more and act for racial justice, it is important also to reflect on possible sources of stress injuries. Research shows that the sources of stress injuries include trauma or threat, loss, moral and ethical conflict, and fatigue. The work of transforming our community will be a long road, and the journey painful, especially for those impacted by racial injustice. Luckily, the science of resilience has clear strategies that can help protect against stress injuries.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind for personal and community resilience.

Foster hope and work for change. Maintaining hope is a critical part of dealing with stressful situations.

» Participate in activities that promote equity and safety for all.

» Do something to help others.

» Lift up minority voices and commit to self-reflection and growth on issues of race and privilege.

Rest, restore and refresh. While working for change, it is also important to take stock of your emotional reserves, and to balance this work with chances to rest.

» Notice and take a break from things that cause you stress and anxiety.

» Reduce media exposure.

» Do things to help cope with stress, such as exercise, journaling, meditation or prayer, or check out wellness offerings below.

Stay connected. Connection to others is one of the best protectors from any kind of stress.

» Maintain routines with family and friends.

» Reach out to those in your social circle who are in need of support.

» Stay involved in activities and groups that make you feel good.

Healing offerings today for Aug. 12

If you feel the need for some community care and restoration, the Women’s Initiative and Common Ground invite you to the Jefferson School City Center 233 4th St. NW, in Charlottesville for FREE drop-in mind-body healing and creative activities today, on Aug. 12. Offerings include:

» Gentle bodywork to relieve pain and stress from 2 to 5 p.m. at Common Ground.

» Resilience banner art activity for relaxation from 2 to 5 p.m. at The Women’s Initiative Jefferson School Office. Materials are provided.

» Yoga for Awakening and Peace from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Common Ground.

Ongoing mental health and wellness services

There are also a number of ongoing mental health services to help residents restore wellness. People of color, in particular, may be impacted by the racial and historical trauma in our community. The Central Virginia Clinicians of Color Network (CVCCN) offers free eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and trauma-based services for people of color. Appointments are available from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the Jefferson School by calling (434) 218-0440.

For other free and affordable services to help address stress related to Aug. 12, 2017, and its aftermath, check out helphappenshere.org/resilience.

Vital Signs This column, which promotes community health, is sponsored by Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, Region Ten Community Services Board, Thomas Jefferson Health District and the University of Virginia Health System. Vital Signs This column, which promotes community health, is sponsored by Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, Region Ten Community Services Board, Thomas Jefferson Health District and the University of Virginia Health System.

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Rebecca Kendall is the director of the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition.

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