Mass shootings: How to calm anxiety and fear after the incident


While you and your family may seem blind to the headlines about mass shootings, chances are you won’t. Many people may feel the stress and even the pain of everything day in and day out. So it’s worth asking how we can take care of ourselves and our loved ones during these emotionally vulnerable times. I turned to some of my colleagues for advice and how best to take care of ourselves, our loved ones and our children during this time. Here are some expert thoughts.

It’s normal to feel scared during times of uncertainty, instability, and violence, according to clinical psychologist Alexandra Solomon, assistant clinical professor at Northwestern University and the “Reimagining Love” podcast. host. Fear is a completely normal and expected response to such events, she said.

Fear is justified, but we also need to be aware of feeling excessively frightened — or our children feel it. Check with yourself and your child. If the fear is seriously affecting your life, consider some of the following interventions to help ease your anxiety or that of your family.

Connection opportunities

Kitley said that many of us want to protect our children from these shocking headlines, but with information widely available to our children, that’s no longer a reasonable expectation.

Mass shootings are devastating events, but they provide an opportunity for families to meaningfully discuss major social issues, including talking about safety and race. For example, her 10-year-old son recently asked Kitley, “Why are people even allowed to buy guns?” followed by a healthy discussion on social issues and safety across races and demographics that Kitley and her children may never be involved in. discuss. It is also important to note that our children need to express themselves and be heard.

Solomon added that we need to open up and communicate with our children, even if what they say doesn’t match our feelings or beliefs. During difficult times, the voice of the child needs to be listened to, not just correcting and redirecting any errors of thought or fact.

Cathy Cassani Adams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dominican University in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, recently published ” Zen Parenting: Taking Care of Ourselves and Our Children in an Unpredictable WorldIt was important to keep in mind the right people involved in keeping us all safe, added. study 2020 Published in the journal Criminology and Public Policy RAND Corporation Report About mass shootings in America. Remember, heroes, helpers and problem solvers are always there. This affirmation gives hope and is a rare commodity in times like these.

know your facts

Solomon shares some thoughts on the racial dimension of these tragic events. She sees the challenge for parents and caregivers in the family as being sober, immediate and age-appropriate to deal with the realities and dangers of anti-Black and white supremacy.

“I want parents of white families to intentionally refer to many of these incidents as white supremacist shootings rather than mass shootings,” she said. “Parents of young white males in particular need to monitor online activity. We know groups are targeting young of white men radicalized. »

It’s not about making anyone feel guilty or bad about being white, she said. As a white man, I know that as white people, we have a responsibility to understand the history of our country and the extent to which systemic racism has and will continue to be ingrained.

Pay attention to your input

It’s important to know what’s going on every day, but keep in mind that news about mass shootings can overwhelm your family. To reduce any anxiety you and your child may be feeling, Keitley recommends turning off the news at least once in a while.

Remember to create regular family time, chores and games. During times of stress, a certain level of normality will provide the balance your family needs. Solomon said families need to pay attention to each other and foster moments of joy, fun and rest.

Don’t skip the good stuff

For so many families, it’s a big time of year with proms, graduations, graduations, family holidays and other happy coming-of-age ceremonies. Kitley recommends focusing on the good things in front of you.

To stay happy, don’t just avoid the headlines — take advantage of these milestones. Feelings of normality and happiness are crucial to getting through times of social upheaval.

Participate in positive change

Families do better when they are tasked with doing something rather than sitting on their hands when something terrible happens.In fact, a Meta-Analysis 2020 The journal Psychological Bulletin found that helping others can improve our own emotional well-being, a powerful benefit beyond engagement.

So ask your family to donate, organize a walk, or do something else to help reduce violence in this country. As Kitley told me, sometimes taking action and getting involved can help you feel empowered to be a part of something.

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