The Death of George Floyd: How to Take Care of Your Mental Health When Things Get Ugly?

The Death of George Floyd: How to Take Care of Your Mental Health When Things Get Ugly?

Ugly news isn’t anything unusual, and yet so far this year has been exceptional in its bleakness with the daily updates on the new COVID-19 virus.
This week, we hit a new low on ugly-news, with the death of George Floyd, another unarmed Black man who was pinned to the ground by the knee of a white officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The images we see peppering our screens are devastatingly ugly. They can be overwhelming, deeply sobering, and also trigger our own feelings of sadness, and grief, leaving us fearing for our futures.

There isn’t a quick-fix to make these images go away. We can’t magically make them disappear or pretend they didn’t happen. So, what can we do to self-guard our mental health in times like these?

  1. Limit Exposure to the News: Stick to 5 minutes of reading the headlines, rather than watching the story as it unfolds throughout the day.
  2. Press Pause: Breathe. Acknowledge the difficult feelings that you are experiencing. You can think or say to yourself, ‘I feel sad. I feel overwhelmed. I feel angry. And that’s okay, that’s normal.’
  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Place a hand on your heart and speak gently to yourself, acknowledge that you are not alone, that you are one of the millions devastated by what you are seeing. Comfort yourself, saying, ‘(your name) you are not alone, I am with you, I know this is very difficult for you, I’m going to take care of you through this.
  4. Act: Actively responding to these events reinforces our sense of autonomy and gives us hope. There are small ways that you can act to voice your sadness, anger, and compassion for those impacted by this and similar disasters.

It has been a difficult week for many of us. Take time this weekend to care for yourself, walk in the woods, hug your kids, have strawberries, and maple syrup on your pancakes. There is a lot of ugliness in our world, a lot that makes us sad, and makes us angry.

And, there is also great beauty. Pause, and take a moment to look at what is beautiful this weekend.

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