How do you process a tragedy like the Highland Park shooting?

Posted on July 12, 2022 by Published by

New details about the shooting at a Highland Park Independence Day parade on Monday continue to come out, and every new headline and news alert can bring new stress and anxiety, especially because this tragedy hits closer to home for people living in the region.

Tragic news events can be difficult to process, even when you aren’t involved directly.

“When tragedies like this happen, it often negatively impacts our sense of safety. Happening closer to home makes it a little more difficult for us to rationalize it away as something that doesn’t happen close to us,” says Dr. Munther Barakat, Director of Behavioral Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa, Wis.

Dr. Barakat says keeping to your routine can help you cope. You also may want to stay away from constantly reading the news and following every single update.

“We still have to maintain our sense of safety by not alternating our plans or schedules. Trying to maintain our schedule and engaging in self-care is the best thing we can do for ourselves,” he says.

Potentially making the Highland Park shooting more difficult is that it happened at a parade. Most people have been to a parade, usually a routine, celebratory family event where safety concerns typically are far from your first consideration.

“People are affected in different ways. The biggest concern people will express is having a sense they have no control over their safety,” he says.

In turn, it’s possible people in the community can start to have emotional, physical and behavioral reactions to these tragic events. Dr. Barakat warns there are specific signs that you or someone you love may be deeply affected by the tragedy.

“Oftentimes, we start to neglect our basic needs such as sleeping and eating. Our overall functioning will also deteriorate in the sense that our quality of work at our jobs will suffer,” he says.

He reiterates the importance of sharing your feelings with those around you and making sure self-care is a priority.

“Self-care is crucial. Make sure you are tuned into your needs,” he recommends. “Process your concerns with others and get help if you feel like it’s not getting any better.”

Article contributed by: LeeAnn Betz

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