It’s February 2018, and there’s been yet another school shooting.
This was the one down in Florida. The death toll ranges between 17-20 students, depending on the source of your information, and there’s been many more wounded.
I’m here to help you cope with this. I’m here to help you recover from this, and I’m going to start by saying that it’s OK to be emotional about this in Broomfield, Colorado.
If you’re feeling emotions around this, I’m actually going to encourage that. I encourage you to embrace these emotions, not push them away, experience them in their fullness. Some of the emotions that people normally get around an event like this include: Anger; the need to blame others whether or not they were involved with the situation; some people feel depression, which is anger turned inwards, or just garden variety sadness. Some people have a sense of anxiety, or worry, or panic, or just garden variety fear. All of that is valid.
Some people find themselves in a state of shock; some people find that they feel unsafe or vulnerable. There’s often some confusion surrounding events like this because it’s hard to understand. Some people resort to denial. Some people end up with hyper vigilance, or they feel helpless. There’s often a lack of concentration or a sense of disorientation in daily life, and that just ties into the confusion. Some people feel numb or apathetic, which is a result of a condition called “compassion fatigue” which means you get tired of caring. Some people end up having nightmares; that’s just part of how your brain processes this. It’s really quite normal.
There are also physical symptoms you feel in your physical body. Some people feel fatigue, they feel worn out; they feel insomnia, where they’re unable to sleep. They get headaches or nausea. Some people experience changes in eating patterns. Some people feel back pain, and a lot of people have an inability to stop crying, particularly if they have children that age, because it feels like it strikes home. This is all quite normal. This doesn’t make you weird, it doesn’t make you a mutant, it makes you human.
This is all very normal in Broomfield, Colorado.
So what do we do with this? Well first I’m going to start with what you do NOT do: Please do not resort to alcohol and drugs to numb your emotions. It’s a good idea to avoid overexpose to the media, because they’re going to go in depth on every little detail they can find, and it’s going to be overwhelming for your limbic system or your emotional center. Along with the worry, do not give in to overactive thought processes. It’s very easy to get a chain reaction going inside your head. Try to avoid that. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you do not retreat from the world or avoid social interaction. I personally disagree, just because that’s something that really serves me, but that’s what’s been recommended by experts in the field, and I would encourage you to do what you feel is appropriate along those lines.
So here’s some things you should do: Do allow the pain and emotions to be there, please do not push them away. The only way out is through. It’s a good idea to embrace routine, it’s one of my favorite strategies in hard times. It’s a good idea to get some fresh air, go for a walk in nature. It’ll clear your head. Some people find it useful to journal or use art to express their feelings, whatever medium works for you. It’s a good idea to nourish your self with nutritious food; try not to binge on fast food. Cook something good for yourself. Some people find it’s useful to help wherever they can, and a lot of people choose to donate blood because it makes them feel like they’re doing something. When there was the massive shooting in the Aurora movie theater a few years back, the line at the blood center was really long; a lot of people decided to donate blood. I went to donate blood; I couldn’t,even get in. The line was two hours long.
And if necessary, get some counseling. Get some professional help.
**Colorado Crisis Services 1-844-493-TALK (8255)**
Here’s another strategy that goes along with those. This is an exercise written by a very important psychiatrist called Peter Levine. Now Dr. Levine is a very significant practitioner in the trauma field. He offers a special form of trauma therapy called Somatic Experiencing, which is why I follow him because it’s all based on the body. He’ provided an exercise which I’m going to share with you now. So the goal of this exercise is to foster body awareness; this is great for people who dissociate from their body. This is to bring you back home into your body, and foster a sense of body awareness. This will also serve to calm the nervous system. This exercise can be done either seated or lying down, and it’s done as follows:
Place one hand over your heart and one hand on your forehead. Now it’s a good idea to prop this elbow up on something because you’re going to be here for a while. Dr. Levine recommends staying like this for five or ten minutes and concentrating on the space between your hands until you feel a shift. Then take the upper hand and place it on your belly, keeping a hand on the heart. Concentrate on the space between those two hands until you feel a shift. This should be very soothing to you.
So these are my recommendations. Our society is not real big on self care, and those of us in the healing arts are notoriously bad at self care. We take care of others; we don’t take care of ourselves. Please take care of yourself, particularly if you’re in the healing arts, because in that way, you can serve others better. I’m Mark with Vital Touch, and I hope to see you soon. Thanks for watching.