anxiety over mass gatherings

How to Cope with Anxieties over Mass Shootings

July 6, 2022
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In response to Monday’s mass shooting in Highland Park, many people across the country and here in Naperville are struggling to cope with another threat to their security after the pandemic.

Dr. Laura Bokar, LMFT, LCPC, ACS, of Fox Valley Institute offers this advice for managing fear and anxiety in going to larger events.

 Everyone manages fear/anxiety differently: there is no right or wrong way. What one can do to help manage their emotions is to be prepared. The more one is aware of their surroundings, the more safe one will feel. Keep close to the people you are attending the event [with]; decide where you would meet if one gets lost; know where the security/police are located, then breathe and enjoy the event. If one is feeling too much fear/anxiety, then do not go. It is ok to not go and wait until you are ready. But, do not isolate: stay connected with friends and family in other ways.”

How to Talk to Your Kids

Parents, grandparents and guardians often ask how to talk to their kids about such a sad and horrible situation.

Wendy Hayum-Gross LCPC of Grow Wellness Group says,The most important thing to consider is what is age appropriate for the child. Young children do not need to be exposed to this unless they are personally impacted. Always be honest with children, but do not share more than needed. If you are unsure what is age appropriate ask a counselor, educator or child development specialist for advice. It is a parent’s responsibility to protect their children, to be honest, and to help children feel safe and secure. Consider that before you talk about any traumatic event in a child’s life.”

Dr. Bokar adds the main things are to remind them they are safe and loved. She advises giving them the opportunity to ask questions and to share their feelings: all of them, whether fear, anger or sadness. She says most importantly, listen and validate their feelings.  “Do not let your feelings get in the way of them sharing theirs because their feelings may be different than yours,” says Bokar.

She encourages parents to learn more through a “Coping With Traumatic Events Tips For Parents” handout offered through Tuesday’s Children.

How to Remain Optimistic

“Remembering the good in the world outweighs the bad,” is key, said Wendy Hayum-Gross LCPC of Grow Wellness Group.There is beauty in every day when we stop to take the time to acknowledge it, and maybe most importantly, we need to be present every day in the best ways we can because we are not guaranteed tomorrow. “

Dr. Bokar mirrored that thought, saying,  “One remains optimistic during these times by remembering their own blessings and loved ones while grieving the loss of the ones who were hurt and killed. Let’s take these horrific situations and use them to bring us closer to our own loved ones. Say “I love you” more often, give more hugs, reach out to people in any way (call, text, snapchat) and tell them you care. Bring joy to others by connecting, again while grieving the loss. Connection is the main variable that uplifts our emotions. “

Finally, Wendy Hayum – Gross says, “This is [an] opportunity to have a long conversation with the ones you love. This is about so much more than random acts of violence. Tragedy allows us to talk about the things we don’t want to talk about but would benefit from bringing into the open. This opens the topics of faith, humanity, government, personal philosophy, choices and more.”

Click here for resources to help the victim of the Highland Park Parade Shootings.

NCTV17 reports.