Dealing with stress after a mass shooting

Mental health experts are suggesting ways recognize and cope with hidden stress following a pair of mass shootings across the U.S. less than two weeks apart.

First, stop the steady stream of information, said licensed clinical social worker Shara Cyrus, who counsels with parents and students through DC Behavioral Health.

“In the course of our day, we already have stressors, and when these things happen, we may not have the capacity to process it at that moment,” she said. “It’s OK to turn off our social media, to just log out.”

Another tip she gave to a virtual group of people logged into the city’s most recent Wellness Wednesday webinar: practice preferred self-care.

“We have to remember to take care of ourselves,” she said. “Whether that’s listening to music, practicing deep breathing or finding something comforting.”

Police are investigating the mass murder of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Earlier this month, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 people.

But Cyrus said no matter where tragic events occur, they can spark unrecognized emotions in many people.

Perhaps the most important thing to do is pay attention to emotions, she said. That’s especially critical for parents who want to discuss safety issues with children.

“You may have a mix of feelings,” she said. ”Allow space for your feelings and for those feelings to change because that’s what they do. It may not be today that you feel something, it may be next week. It may be later.”

The bottom line, Cyrus said, is it’s normal to experience a wave of different emotions after a mass shooting, even if the event is miles away.

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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