We Can’t Control What Happens Around Us, but We Can Control How We React to Events

Along with the arrival of spring, we’re seeing some COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed. Unfortunately, there’s been an increase in gun violence, too, particularly mass shootings, in recent weeks. Case(s) in point: Atlanta; Boulder, Colo.; and Orange, Calif. 

That adds new stress and an added layer of fear in an already uncertain time. After all, one hopes that a mundane trip to the grocery store or to the office remains just that: mundane.

We may not always be able to control events happening around us, but we can control how we react. Here’s some advice from the Colorado Sun:

  • Admit you’re hurting. It’s fine to acknowledge fear or struggling. That can move a person past the shaky panic and into a more productive problem-solving mode.
  • Tune out (a bit). It can be tempting to try and take in every bit of information flowing out of news outlets, but that cycle is 24/7, with information just a couple clicks away. Step away from it a bit to give your mind and spirit a rest from the unsettling news.
  • Consider who is in earshot of the news. Young children in particular may have questions. Answering them in a straightforward way that doesn’t focus on the gruesome details is a good approach. “He’s a bad person, but he’s in jail now where he can’t hurt others.”
  • Have an escape plan. We might not want to consider we may need to know potential hiding spots or where the nearest exits are when in a store, office, or school, but it can help.
  • Share your plans. It’s a topic no one wants to mention, but knowing children or pets, for example, will have someone to care for them, makes it easier for all affected parties.
  • Give yourself time to focus and reflect. That doesn’t mean dwelling on things 24/7, but setting aside time to process things can be useful. 
  • Choose healthy routines. Self-care is important, so sleep, exercise, a balanced diet, and maybe a hobby you love will keep you humming along. Healthy routines and some self-compassion can do a lot of good.
  • Avoid the bad. Drinking too much or resorting to drug use can be a way to self-medicate during stressful times, but it can fuel other issues, including sleep disturbances or mood disorders. In excess, it can lead to addiction and a host of physical and mental health troubles.

Sources

npr.org – 4 Killed In Shooting At Office Building In California

coloradosun.com – 8 ways to handle the anxiety that follows public violence all too familiar in Colorado

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – January 2021: Mental Wellness Month

cdc.gov – Alcohol Use and Your Health

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