Nowadays, it seems like you can’t watch the news without coming across a story of yet another mass shooting or active shooter situation. For many of us, it’s not just restricted to the TV. Many of us have friends, families, and communities that have been affected by shootings. It’s not uncommon for people to avoid large gatherings specifically due to the fear of gun violence.
If you have been having feelings of anxiety, fear, and stress as a direct result of thinking about mass shootings, you are not alone. It’s not unreasonable for anyone to be rocked by such a reality, but there can be real harm in experiencing vicarious fear and trauma as a result. As such, it’s important to look at what you can do to manage it.
Acknowledge and recognize your feelings
In many cases, it’s easy to not think too much about the things that we are feeling but to simply go through them. However, when it comes to anxiety, not finding and labeling those emotions can cause you to live in a state of panic and irritability, where an anxious response can get triggered more easily, which is not pleasant.
You shouldn’t avoid the topic of what it is that you are feeling, nor the topic of gun violence that is the root cause. Check in with yourself as well as those in your family, giving room to voice your concerns and identify the root of your feelings. You don’t want to get into a habit of catastrophizing speech or going off about mass shootings or getting into mental cycles that have you sitting with the subject for long periods of time, but identifying it can help you figure out how to manage it.
Don’t expose yourself to it every day
You don’t want to bury your head in the sand and ignore everything that’s going on around you. However, there is undeniable evidence that we tend to adopt a negative lens of the world around us based on how much current events media we absorb. It can make the world seem a crueler and more dangerous place than it is. This is because the media picks up and circulates the most dramatic and attention-catching news throughout the day.
Trauma can cause us to seek out more and more information and details about the things that have traumatized us, but you can effectively fuel it this way. If you feel like the news is getting to you, step back, turn it off, and have some time to yourself.
Address it as a family
You may be worried about how the news of gun violence and mass shootings affects your family. Nowadays, you can’t assume that anyone is ignorant of these tragedies, especially thanks to the internet and social media. In the aftermath of these events, it can help to take an opportunity to have constructive and meaningful conversations about them as a family. You can talk about things like the role guns play in society, gun control, as well as factors that often play into mass shootings, such as race and mental health.
Your children are going to have things they want to say, as well as questions. It can be important to make sure that they have the space to speak their mind, even if their ideas don’t seem right to you.
Take a break to take care of yourself
It’s not just current events that you might feel like you need to take a break from. If you are feeling some kind of trauma from recent news, then you should give yourself permission to take a few days to yourself. If you can take a break from work, take it. Engage with your hobbies, get out into nature, and do the things that can help you feel safer and calmer.
Consider talking to someone about it
If you feel like you’re not doing a good job of managing your anxieties and fears by yourself, don’t be too hard on yourself. No one can manage their own emotions impartially, not while we’re also experiencing them. To that end, you should look at the prospect of talking to someone, perhaps a professional for some counseling, to help you work through it in a safe and constructive way.
If you, your family, or someone you love is experiencing anxiety due to mass shootings and gun violence, keep the tips above in mind. They can’t quell your fears of the possibility entirely, but they can help you manage the way that these thoughts affect you and your quality of life.
Help with Anxiety in the Lakewood & Longmont Colorado area
We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with an anxiety specialist. You can schedule your appointment via phone, or the contact page on our website. You can read more about our Anxiety Therapy expertise here.
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