After an active shooter incident or a mass shooting, it is very important that we check in with ourselves and others regarding our anxiety levels and level of fear, even for those on the other side of the county, or the other side of the world.
Workplace productivity drops as co-workers chat about the horrific shooting and fears around whether their company has a plan in place if they were to encounter an active shooter. We go home and then deal with our children who are exposed to way too much violence and must uncover their fears. Our teenagers may be chatting about what if their high school is attacked or what about that “Muslim student” in their geometry class.
Talk Radio, National News Channels and Local TV stations are constantly talking about the panic and the frequency of these events. We can either become entranced by the events or we can become numb to them.
Here are a few tips to help at work and at home:
- Limit your exposure to the news of the shootings. Too many people are glued to the TV, radio or internet with their children watching in the background. It’s okay to catch the details and be informed, but be very careful that you are not being over exposed to it. The images that you see can affect you and your children.
- Talk about your feelings! It is important for you and your children to share your feelings. Sometimes we simply need to say the things out loud that we are thinking. Listen to your children and their concerned concerns. Address their issues in a matter of fact way not from a place of fear.
- Be sensitive to others. People who have suffered a past trauma, those who have an anxiety disorder, PTSD, or deal with substance abuse or mental illness may have a more severe, negative reaction to a shooting event, especially if they have little or no family/social support. Be sensitive to those from other cultures. After an attack like yesterday we see hate crimes rise and prejudice soar. This is a time to open our hearts to other religions and cultures. This is not a time to blame an entire religion for the fanatical outbursts of a few people.
- Honor your feelings. It is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic event. Trauma bears a toll on us. Anxiety, fear, stress and even physical symptoms of exhaustion are normal after exposure to a traumatic event. You might not have been present but the images on TV, especially if you have watched it over and over, can have a very profound effect on us psychologically.
- Get back to normal! It is extremely important for both adults and children to get back into our normal routines as quickly as possible. There is safety and comfort in our normalcy!
Remember that we stand a better chance of being killed in a car accident or struck by lightening than we do being shot at work. If you, a co-worker or a family member are having an exceptionally hard time dealing with negative feelings after a mass shooting, please get yourself or them to a professional for counseling.