May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the week of May 10-16, 2022, was set aside as National Mental Health Awareness Week in the United States. For this month’s installation of Coping Strategies Thursdays (CST) we want to provide you with a few coping strategies that you can use in real time to help you cope with the mental distress that comes from mass shootings. All across the US, we experienced a high level of mass shootings in the past week, and the City of Milwaukee was not spared.
Here are a few ways that you can cope:
- Renew your mind and protect your space. With access to news and graphic footage 24/7, it is extremely important that you are very intentional about the content that you consume on various media platforms. Actively reduce your stress by reducing your exposure to media/news outlets that activate a stress response within you. Instead, opt to consume content that relaxes you.
- Breathe in, breathe out. Engage in mindful breathing as a way to reduce your stress. If fear has gripped you and you find that you are having trouble breathing, take a few moments to be present as you breathe, reminding yourself that you are safe and secure. Tense and release every major muscle group in your body, one at a time as you breathe. Start from your face and slowly make your way down to your toes.
- Resist the temptation to use substances to cope. Engage in healthy activities that naturally increase feel good hormones, dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. Such activities may include, but certainly are not limited to, making/eating a good meal with loved ones/friends, spending some time in the sun, engaging in your favorite exercise, watching your favorite comedy, listening to your favorite artist, or giving/receiving hugs from your loved ones/friends.