How Can I Cope With the Stress of Hearing About the US Capitol Riots?

Synthia Stark

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

As we all know, various news channels and online media reported that Trump supporters stormed into the United States Capitol to halt Present-elect Joe Biden’s election certification. Unlawful riots essentially occurred where damage, injury, conflict, and even gunshots were heard inside. It also seems that at least three people were reported to be killed.

Frightening footage and images caused uproar for people on both sides of the political spectrum, for a variety of different reasons. These distressing images have flooded their way onto our social media outlets and have caused a lot of people to be stressed and overwhelmed.

We expected 2021 to be a wonderful new start to a new year. However, it just seems to be a continuation of the bad stuff that happened in 2020, such as the increased political division from the election and of course, the ongoing pandemic.

While the Capitol is now seemingly secure after all that has happened, it has left many people anxious and scared, especially given the state of the world today. by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash

The heightened political divisiveness doesn’t seem to be going away, so the best thing we can do is just to take care of ourselves and our immediate families. If you need to, prioritize your emotional well-being and mental health with lots of physical breaks and coping mechanisms.

1. Take a Temporary Breather From Social Media

It’s okay to keep informed about various world events, however, we’re in a future where news travels super fast. If you need to, take some time to focus on other things like reading a book or playing video games.

When you feel emotionally ready again, you can go back to watching or reading more news, but only when you feel comfortable doing so. Plus, make sure the source you are watching or reading from is legitimate — we don’t want to take misinformation at face value. by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

In the olden days, it would take so many days or even months for information to be sent to other places, whether it was through a telegram or a hand-written letter.

Just even one hour of social media can cause us to feel irrationally angry, especially if you see people posting live streams of specific events in real-time and making mean comments.

Sure, we want to look informed but if you’re angry, that doesn’t help anyone, especially since our employers might be prowling online. Plus, we have to make sure our well-being is okay.

2. Consume News Smartly

It’s okay to watch the news every single day. However, if there’s a segment that lasts for several hours, you could probably turn that off. I mean, there’s probably going to be a video recap of that lengthy segment or a simple highlight reel, in case you’re worried about missing something important.

Plus, you can always read about it later and analyze it more critically and logically. It’s hard to be critical and logical when we are feeling angry or distressed. by Anna Demianenko on Unsplash

We have to make sure that you are emotionally healthy. It’s okay to limit your news time into chunks. You could watch a few hours there, work on something else, and then watch a few more hours later on, instead of sitting on the couch for several hours.

Plus, repeatedly watching the same footage replay over and over again is a bit annoying and distressing. Even if we have questions, it might be better to talk to your online friends or reading well-informed pieces where people can offer unique interpretations and insights.

If you’re worried about fights, then perhaps reading articles or forums posted by others online might help you establish a better and more well-informed opinion.

3. Find a Relaxing Outlet

Look, some people get pretty angry when watching the news all the time. A pretty common anger management technique is to find some kind of relaxing activity, like yoga or something along those lines.

When you feel angry, walk away from the TV or computer. Spend some time listening to your most favorite tunes, listen to some funny podcasts, and when you feel ready, just lie down. Don’t think about the state of the world, just focus on how you feel at the moment.

Focus on your body if you need to.

It’s not easy to develop the ability to magically be calm, but with a little practice, you can make some form of yoga work, as your instant diffuser against anger. by Isabell Winter on Unsplash

Plus, yoga is usually known to help people focus their attention on their immediate surroundings and scientific studies can confirm this. Instead of being stuck in the clouds, scared and angry at the world, you can instead focus on your immediate life, such as your house, your job, your family, and your kids.

Maybe you want to take a stroll into the garden while you’re at it, too. It’s good to keep those muscles relaxing and the oxygen from outside might keep your head level and sharp.

4. Figure Out a Mindfulness Routine

Mindfulness is a type of secularized yoga, where it involves paying attention to the present moment and accepting that you feel a certain way. We often spend our time on auto-pilot, where we think about past traumas and future deadlines all the time.

It’s easy to get caught in a stressful bind where everything feels hopeless. The reality is that mindfulness training usually teaches you how to cope with stress.

The best thing we can do is focus on something other than continuously stressful news. When our mind is relaxed, we can eventually get back to watching the news later in the day, and we are much more calm and civil.

A good way of practicing mindfulness is paying direct attention to the physical sensations of your body and not caring about the world for several minutes. Sure, you can go back and watch the news later, but your brain deserves a break from the stress. by Sigmund on Unsplash

Overall, while this event definitely caused a much greater divide, it can also bring solidarity too. Certain circles of people on either side of the political spectrum can agree that what happened at the Capitol was crazy.

We are a democracy, and it’s expected that we show an example of how awesome America is compared to other countries. The other countries basically watched us in sheer horror and shock at what just happened the other day. However, at the end of the day, we can’t control our governments but we can most certainly control our emotions so that we are well-informed but also mentally sound.

For now, if you’re still feeling stressed, you can always text in with a crisis line, regardless of your age. Someone on the other end will make you make sense of the anger and confusion that you are feeling. For example, our country has a non-profit mental health charity called Crisis Text Line, where people can text 741741 to a crisis counselor for free. Plus, the crisis line has briefly acknowledged the events that unfolded the other day in a rather amazing Tweet.

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Mental Health Professional | Crisis Responder | Science Writer


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