When national tragedy hits, it is crucial to remember some self care. After two full days of seeing and talking about coverage of the Las Vegas massacre, I was exhausted.
I worked for eight and a half hours the day after it happened and intermittently saw coverage on Twitter. When I went home after my shift, I spent hours reading the latest updates and watching the news on TV. I wanted to know what was happening and I wanted to know if I could do anything more than donate blood.
I am a journalism student and the shooting was the topic in all my classes. Blood, families searching for their loved ones, flashing red and blue lights were circling my thoughts. The headline “The Largest Mass Shooting in Modern American History” was used in so many articles and I just felt…hopeless.
The shock factor of these shootings is gone. Now the emotions I feel instead are terrible anger and extreme sadness.
People woke up the next morning without husbands, wives, significant others and parents. And this hit me really hard.
I don’t know if it is due to me recently losing someone close to me. Maybe I’m projecting my own emotions onto this event while empathizing with the victims and survivors; but it got to me.
I am not ashamed to admit that I cried. I cried for over an hour. “How do things like this keep happening?” I kept asking myself. When we begin to start asking those questions, it is easy to fall down a rabbit hole. So I asked for help. I reached out to both my aunt and our lovely Editor-in-Chief of Metiza, Paige Bird for some self-care tips.
I’ve compiled all of the ones that made me feel better in hoped that they’ll make you feel better too. We can get through these tragedies together, with love.
💜 Removing yourself from social media.
Although this is super hard to do, sometimes it is just best to log off. While social media can be filled with plenty of positive quotes and cute puppy pictures, after a national tragedy, it is full of heated debate and complicated politics. The difference between this shooting and others though was the social media coverage. Photos of the carnage were running rampant on my timeline and that was not something I was prepared to look at or interested in seeing at all. Although these images make the event more real, it is mentally damaging and exhausting to see.
💜 Realizing where you are coming from.
People with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, PTSD (etc.) can be hit harder by national tragedy. There is a higher risk factor for anxiety if someone has had a traumatic experience in their background.
However, even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, national tragedy can hit quite close to home. In times like these, it is important to take a step back and realize that it is affecting you. Let yourself feel these feelings (I did, like I said I cried for an hour) but do not let them consume you. For example, I spoke to my roommate afterwards which kind of brought me back to the present. This leads me to our next self-care tip.
💜 Talk it out.
Whether it be with a licensed professional, your roommate or your mom, create a safe space for you to verbalize your feelings. This has helped me so much in the past couple of days. Reaching out and simply talking about the tragedy or how it has personally affected you helps you not internalize those tough feelings, which can be destructive. Also voicing your emotions can help put things into perspective. While guilt, extreme sadness, and anger are all normal reactions, by speaking with someone you can put them in context and perhaps go a little easier on yourself.
If you can’t find someone you want to talk to, or if there is no safe space to do so, journaling is always great. You are still actively talking out your feelings but in a more private manner which can still be just as helpful as a close friend.
💜 Take care of yourself.
Taking the time to actually care about yourself in times like this can be challenging, but in order to be any help to those who need us, we must take care of ourselves first. Remember the flight attendant speech? Get your own oxygen mask first before you help others. Looks like they’re on to something there. Get in your necessary ounces of water, your daily exercise, and try to add a little more sleep into your schedule to help your body cope with this trauma. A little extra self-care during the mourning period is necessary. So get some extra rice at Chipotle, do a face mask, take a bath, hopefully do all three.
Like I said in order to help those directly affected, we must help ourselves first.
Hold space for each other and have patience with yourself.