Permission to Disconnect after a School Shooting

Another school shooting happened today.

The news coverage is intense.

It's normal to want to feel involved, up to date on the news and informed about what's going on, especially in a crisis. A shooting naturally makes us feel helpless, and actively seeking out information can make us feel like we are doing something proactive.

I'm here to give you permission to not do that this time. It's ok to turn off the tv and disconnect from social media.

No really, it is.

Watching videos, sound clips and pictures of people in fear, running away, or panicking can cause us to feel those same emotions, even though we're safe on the couch at home.

Our brains contain something called "mirror neurons" which fire when we make an action or feel an emotion, and also when we see someone else do or feel something. They're aptly named because they work like a mirror, allowing us to feel what we observe others feeling. They're great for allowing us to have empathy, but awful when it comes to fear and trauma.

Have you ever heard the phrase "If it bleeds, it leads?" The idea is that the news coverage is concerned with only the gory, traumatic and emotional stories because that's what gets ratings. When a school shooting happens, the coverage is intense, traumatic, and non-stop. The more we watch, the more our mirror neurons take in, making us feel like we're there, experiencing the terror, fear and grief firsthand. The more we watch, the harder it gets to break away. Great for ratings, terrible for mental health.

In light of that, I'm giving you permission to disconnect from the television and internet today. If you do end up watching the coverage, be sure to take time to process the feelings that come up for you. Limit the exposure you have to these traumatic things, knowing that they can negatively effect you too, and as always, take good care of yourself.