Wellness Center

Community Resiliency

The Wellness Center supports the strength and resiliency of the Rollins community.

Restoring Wellness

The Wellness Center strives to support the holistic wellness of the Rollins community in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting and other traumatic events.  We recognize that the effects of community violence manifest differently and at different times for diverse individuals and families.  We also appreciate the additive effect of multiple stressful local, national, and global events on personal wellness.  

Although time has passed since the shooting, it can be helpful to check in with yourself as to changes in your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and ways of relating to others.  Many of these changes are likely to pass with time, and none are signs of weakness.  If you notice that your reactions are extreme, or if they have been going on for a long time, counselors and other professionals can help.

We hope the information and resources provided here will enhance your regular wellness practices and help you give and receive support.  Information on common reactions, what helps, and giving and receiving support is reprinted from the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide (2nd ed.), developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD.

Common Reactions

We each experience stress differently after community violence.  Some reactions are more common during or immediately after a shooting, while others can continue for weeks or months.  If you notice that your reactions are extreme, or if they have continued for a long time, counselors and other professionals can help.

Common Immediate Reactions


Muscle tension
Increased heart rate
Exaggerated startle response
Difficulties sleeping
Readiness to respond
Increased energy


Intrusive thoughts and images
Determination and resolve
Sharper perception


Feeling involved
Feeling challenged
Feeling mobilized


Extreme withdrawal
Interpersonal conflict
Social connectedness
Altruistic helping behaviors

Common Reactions that May Continue

Intrusive reactions

Distressing thoughts or images of the event while awake or dreaming
Upsetting emotional or physical reactions to reminders of the experience
Feeling like the experience is happening all over again (“flashback”)

Avoidance and withdrawal reactions

Avoid talking, thinking, and having feelings about the traumatic event
Avoid reminders of the event (places and people connected to what happened)
Restricted emotions; feeling numb
Feelings of detachment and estrangement from others; social withdrawal
Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities

Physical arousal reactions

Constantly being “on the lookout” for danger, startling easily, or being jumpy
Irritability or outbursts of anger, feeling “on edge”
Difficulty falling or staying asleep, problems concentrating or paying attention

Reactions to trauma and loss reminders

Reactions to places, people, sights, sounds, smells, and feelings that are reminders of the disaster
Reminders can bring on distressing mental images, thoughts, and emotional/physical reactions
Common examples include sudden loud noises, sirens, locations where the disaster occurred, seeing people with disabilities, funerals, anniversaries of the disaster, and television/radio news about the disaster

Positive changes in priorities, worldview, and expectations

Enhanced appreciation that family and friends are precious and important
Meeting the challenge of addressing difficulties (by taking positive action steps, changing the focus of thoughts, using humor, acceptance)
Shifting expectations about what to expect from day to day and about what is considered a “good day"
Shifting priorities to focus more on quality time with family or friends
Increased commitment to self, family, friends, and spiritual/religious faith

Reprinted from Brymer, M., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., ... Watson, P. (2006).  Psychological first aid field operations guide (2nd ed.)  National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD.

What Helps

Talking to another person for support or spending time with others
Engaging in positive distracting activities (sports, hobbies, reading)
Getting adequate rest and eating healthy meals
Trying to maintain a normal schedule
Scheduling pleasant activities
Taking breaks
Reminiscing about a loved one who has died
Focusing on something practical that you can do right now to manage the situation better
Using relaxation methods (breathing exercises, meditation, calming self-talk, soothing music)
Participating in a support group
Exercising in moderation
Keeping a journal
Seeking counseling

What Doesn't Help

Using alcohol or drugs to cope
Extreme avoidance of thinking or talking about the event or death of a loved one
Violence or conflict
Overeating or failing to eat
Excessive TV or computer games
Blaming others
Working too much
Extreme withdrawal from family or friends
Not taking care of yourself
Doing risky things (driving recklessly, substance abuse, not taking adequate precautions)
Withdrawing from pleasant activities

Reprinted from Brymer, M., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., ... Watson, P. (2006).  Psychological first aid field operations guide (2nd ed.)  National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD.

Giving and Receiving Support

Seeking Social Support

Making contact with others can help reduce feelings of distress
Children and adolescents can benefit from spending some time with similar-age peers
Connections can be with family, friends, or others who are coping with the same traumatic event

Social Support Options

Spouse/partner or parents
Support group 
Trusted family member
Doctor or nurse
Close friend
Crisis/school counselor or other counselor


Decide carefully whom to talk to
Start by talking about practical things
Ask others if it's a good time to talk
Decide ahead of time what you want to discuss
Let others know you need to talk or just be with them
Tell others you appreciate them listening
Choose the right time and place
Talk about painful thoughts and feelings when you're ready
Tell others what you need or how they could help - one main thing that would help you right now


Keep quiet because you don't want to upset others
Keep quiet because you're worried about being a burden
Assume that others don't want to listen
Wait until you're so stressed or exhausted that you can't fully benefit from help

Ways to Get Connected

Calling friends or family on the phone
Increasing contact with existing acquaintances and friends
Renewing or beginning involvement in religious group activities
Getting involved with a support group
Getting involved in community/school recovery activities

Giving Social Support

You can help family members and friends cope with the disaster by spending time with them and listening carefully. Most people recover better when they feel connected to others who care about them. Some people choose not to talk about their experiences very much, and others may need to discuss their experiences. For some, talking about things that happened because of the disaster can help those events seem less overwhelming. For others, just spending time with people they feel close to and accepted by, without having to talk, can feel best. Here is some information about giving social support to other people.

Reasons Why People May Avoid Social Support

Not knowing what they need
Not wanting to burden others
Wanting to avoid thinking or feeling about the event
Feeling embarrassed or "weak"
Doubting it will be helpful, or that others will understand
Assuming that others will be disappointed or judgmental
Fearing they will lose control
Having tried to get help and feeling that it wasn't there
Not knowing where to get help

Good Ways to Give Support

Show interest, attention, and care
Show respect for the person's reactions and ways of coping
Talk about expectable reactions to disasters, and healthy coping
Find an uninterrupted time and place to talk
Acknowledge that this type of stress can take time to resolve
Express belief that the person is capable of recovery
Be free of expectations or judgments
Help brainstorm positive ways to deal with reactions
Offer to talk or spend time together as many times as is needed

Behaviors that Interfere with Giving Support

Rushing to tell someone that he/she will be okay or that they should just "get over it"
Acting like someone is weak or exaggerating because he or she isn't coping as well as you are
Discussing your own personal experiences without listening to the other person's story
Giving advice without listening to the person's concerns or asking the person what works for him or her
Stopping people from talking about what is bothering them
Telling them they were lucky it wasn't worse

When Your Support is Not Enough

Let the person know that experts think that avoidance and withdrawal are likely to increase distress, and social support helps recovery
Encourage the person to talk with a counselor, clergy, or medical professional, and offer to accompany them
Encourage the person to get involved in a support group with others who have similar experiences
Enlist help from others in your social circle so that you all can take part in supporting the person

Reprinted from Brymer, M., Jacobs, A., Layne, C., Pynoos, R., Ruzek, J., ... Watson, P. (2006).  Psychological first aid field operations guide (2nd ed.)  National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD.