Mental health experts say there are ways to work through the pain that comes after mass shootings and other national tragedies.
“This is a major event, and it has come after a series of major events," Liz Coleclough, director of domestic violence, counseling, and addiction services at Jewish Family Service Seattle, said about last weekend's deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue. "Recognizing when we need to take a break, recognizing when we need to take a breath, that's all huge.”
“It can be perfectly natural to feel strong emotions. You may feel strong emotions because you see yourself as a vulnerable group that could be targeted like this in an increasingly polarized country,” said Dr. Douglas Zatzick, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Harborview and UW Medicine.
Experts say one coping mechanism is to return to the little things in life that bring you comfort.
“What are the things that you can work into your routine? If it's talking with friends in your neighborhood, or at work, or if it's an exercise practice, running, or Pilates, or if it's a meditation practice or something that keeps you regulated,” said Zatzick.
“Giving permission to take those breaks, giving permission to go on a hike, go to the spa, go to dinner, go being a human being,” said Coleclough.
It's also important to know when to disconnect.
“Watch your exposure to social media. If social media is the trigger and you need to disconnect for a while, that's a perfectly ok thing to do,” said Zatzick.
It's also helpful to focus on how many different communities are coming together to help one another in the aftermath of this tragedy. Focusing on the positive, the bonds that we all share can help people get through these events, the experts said.