The recent shootings in Pittsburg and California have left many with numerous intense negative emotions. Overwhelming grief and sadness. Frustration. Fear. The list goes on. Helplessness colors the experience.
Regardless of your beliefs about the 2nd amendment or regulation of firearms, these shootings are traumatizing. This is a different type of trauma than those who’ve lost loved ones; this is a community trauma, a societal trauma. Some become numb or apathetic. Perhaps this is a defense against the helplessness. Some relive the trauma with each new headline. They haven’t stopped. These shootings are a symptom of a chronic condition that each of us suffers differently from. To numb ourselves to trauma is to numb ourselves to much of what happens in our lives. This is no way to live.
So, what are helpful coping strategies during these times and where do you find them? I have a few suggestions about how to manage the experience of living with our present circumstances. Below you will find resources from a variety of sources for both parents and individuals. I’ve highlighted some common themes to consider below.
RESOURCES FOR INDIVIDUALS
It’s important to make sure we as individuals are managing our stress after these traumatic events. Here are seven tips on how to gain a sense of normalcy and strengthen your resiliency after a mass shooting.
The bottom line is that it’s important to make space for ourselves, to not numb ourselves to the trauma, and to create connection with one another. The intensity of these events on their own, let alone the multitude that have been experienced can be overwhelming. While it may seem that this violence is “normal” at this point, I would say that it’s normal to feel triggered, feel scared, feel overwhelmed about what to do, and to want help.
1. Increase your self-awareness. What emotions are you feeling? What patterns show up for you as a result of your emotional state? Do you feel more agitated than usual? Do you feel tired? Are you feeling anxious in certain settings? All of this is important information to take in about yourself.
2. Self Care. For each of us that looks different and yet think about how you can take care of yourself with respect to your sleep, exercise, diet, community, and spirituality. My personal favorite for myself and others? Get out in nature! Whether that is a walk in your neighborhood to asses the season in its current state or a hike in the woods, getting outside with some deep breaths in fresh air is good for us. Bottom line, figure out what it looks like to take care of yourself and make space for it.
3. Consume a minimum amount of media to stay informed while limiting overexposure to it.
4. Don’t forget to connect with your support system. It’s important to stay connected to those that you consider your tribe.
5. Get the help you deserve. I’ve found lately that the compounding nature of trauamtic events is becoming increasingly difficult for clients. This is not surprising. While people are incredibly resilient, sometimes professional help is what’s missing to help you get through. Portland has many options to identify a therapist.
RESOURCES FOR PARENTS
1. It’s a good idea to talk to your children. While it may seem like children shouldn’t hear about such scary news, that’s not recommended. Even if you don’t talk to them, they are undoubtedly going to hear about it elsewhere. The key to these conversations is to make them feel safe. Here are five tips on how to talk to your children.
2. How old your child is does make a difference in what you say. Here is a resource in how to talk to your children based on their age.
3. Here are additional resources from how to talk to children to age-related reactions to expect.
I suggest we not go it alone. Sure, your personal responsibility is to care for yourself but this can be done while making connection with each other.
Be well. Ryan