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Coping with mass shootings
by TeenHelp June 1st 2018, 10:14 PM

Coping with mass shootings
By Jenna (.:Bibliophile:.)

Mass shootings have been prevalent in recent years and due to this, many people have developed anxiety and fear over the possibility of becoming victims of a mass shooting. This anxiety and fear can lead to a decrease in quality of life and it can make it hard for some people to leave their house. When people are faced with trauma it challenges their beliefs about the world. One of the beliefs that mass shootings challenge is that the world is predictable and safe. This belief allows people to feel that they are safe and protected and when something traumatic happens such as a mass shooting they start struggling with how to cope with the newfound fear. This article can be a starting point in trying to find ways to cope with the fears you might have about mass shootings.
  • Accept any feelings that have been brought up from hearing about the shooting. Sometimes you'll have a tendency to push down your feelings and this does more harm then good. Accept the anger, hurt, confusion, or fear that you might be feeling.
  • Accept that you cannot control other people. Part of the fear that you might feel is that you don't know who else might try something like that. This fear is quite normal and it's important to accept that you don't have control over other people's actions. The only thing that is in your control is your reaction. If you continue to live in fear it might very well be giving the perpetrators exactly what they want and the fear will not stop shootings from happening in the future. Instead that fear will prevent you from living life and experiencing happiness.
  • Gather around friends and family. If you lean on family, friends and other trusted individuals it can help you to cope. Feeling alone can actually increase the fear that is felt. Also, reaching out to family, friends or other trusted individuals can give you a safe place to vent about your feelings and to come up with a plan to get to a better place. If you are unable to talk to others or do not feel up to it you could try and blog or journal about the thoughts and feelings you are having. You can also consider sharing things on TeenHelp by creating a HelpLINK Ticket, utilizing Live Help or posting in our forums.
  • Volunteer or give back to the community. Sometimes it can be beneficial to help out within the community. If your ideas about the world being safe have been shattered then giving back might help you realize that there is still a lot of good that can go on in the world despite the bad. Getting involved in a cause has been helpful to some people because it allows them to feel like they are trying to make appropriate reform.
  • Try to limit exposure to news outlets. News outlets tend to play the same story over and over for quite some time. While there is nothing wrong with you wanting to be up to date on what is going on, overexposure to the news has a tendency to increase anxiety. If watching the news is something that cannot be avoided, it might help to try and watch something lighthearted after the news segment. Also, it might help to explain to your parents or guardians that watching the news is upsetting and ask if you can watch something else.
  • Bring something safe to school/work. Going into public places after a shooting can feel really unsafe. Having items that allow you to feel safe can help you to cope. These safe items could be a fidget toy, a small stuffed animal or other personal items that have helped you feel safe in the past.
  • Practice self care. The fear that can occur during these events can be overwhelming and it can cause you to be consumed by it. Practicing self care can put you in the moment and lead to you having a little bit of time where you do not think about the event. Self care activities can be a stress relief and at times like this having relief from stress is necessary. Self care activities can include things like hanging out with friends, watching a comedy, reading a book, taking a bath or shower. Anything that is healthy and allows you to take care of yourself can be viewed as self care. Do the things that you enjoy. Here is an article that discusses self care activities you can try.
  • Have a safety plan. Sometimes having a plan for how to respond if there is a shooting at work or school can be helpful. It can give you a sense of safety that has been taken away. That being said, it's important not to let the safety plan consume your mind. If you have a plan but think about it obsessively it's probably going to increase the anxiety and fear you might be having. Instead it's better to make up a plan and refer to it occasionally. Having a plan on how to cope with being out in public can be helpful as well. Being in public environments can be difficult and they can lead to an increase in anxiety and fear. Research breathing techniques for anxiety, remind yourself of where the exits are or plan ways to distract yourself if the anxiety or fear starts taking over. For example, plan to bring a fidget toy to the movie theater so that it will be accessible if your anxiety or fear becomes too much.
  • Do your part. If you see anything suspicious or are concerned about someone, report it to someone you trust so things can be looked into.
Shootings are very unfortunate and the fear that develops due to them can be difficult to cope with. If you are struggling with anxiety due to shootings then it might help to try some of these suggestions. Also, remember that there is help with coping by speaking to your parents, teachers or other trusted individuals in your life.
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