Yesterday was a terrifying day in our country, when the Capitol was breached by armed rioters attempting a coup. There are many elements to this that are potentially traumatic or triggering for those who have a trauma history. Though today is a new day and the Capitol is now operating as normal, the impact of yesterday weighs heavy on many of us.
I can't say I'm an expert at surviving attempted coups. Like many of you, this is my first. But I do have a lot of experience in helping others regulate immediately following a crisis, and that's what we experienced collectively yesterday.
So, how do we move forward?
Name It- This was an attempted coup. We witnessed an act of violence on our country that felt personally violating. There are a number of potential emotions wrapped up in what was witnessed yesterday-- terror, rage, sadness, confusion, shock, frustration with the fact that some feel shocked, etc. etc. Many of us were at work when we found out, expected to continue to be productive the rest of the day. Expected to come into the office today like everything is the same. It is OK to acknowledge to yourself and others that what happened yesterday was significant and that is has impacted you.
Advocate- if any of the thoughts and feelings you've had since the attempted coup have caused you to reflect on racial injustices, empowered you to fight for the integrity of our elections, or shocked you into new level of awareness about the state of things, turn those thoughts and feelings into positive actions. Knowing that you are making changes in your own life to address the issues in front of us today can help make these humungous problems more manageable and less overwhelming. March. Call.Vote. Educate (yourself and others).
Connect- You are not alone in what you are feeling today. During these disconnected Covid times especially, it is important to reach out to others and talk out loud about what you are thinking and feeling. A friend. A parent. A therapist (like me!). Over the phone or in person. And if you aren't alone right now, think about your friends who are and reach out to them.
Tune In- Check in with yourself. How are you doing? Are you remembering to eat? How did you sleep last night? Our bodies know stress-- physical and emotional- and yesterday was stressful. Pay attention to what your body and brain are doing today. Notice the thoughts without judgement. If there are ways you can take care of your body- nourishing it with something nutritious, turning off your phone 15 minutes early tonight for extra sleep, doing some light stretching-- do them! Even though there is stress in the world, we deserve to take care of ourselves.
Tune Out- Yes, it is important to know what is happening in our country during an incredibly important historical moment. Yes, there is privilege in being able to walk away from something traumatizing. BUT it is OK to turn off the news and social media for a day or half a day. It is OK to turn on a timer and give yourself a 20 minute nap where you pretend like none of this is happening. It is OK to go for a run and listen to music and think of absolutely nothing. That's not giving up. That's not ignoring the work that needs to be done. It is taking care of yourself so that when you do show up, you are bringing more of yourself.
I took my own advice and got out for a sunrise run this morning to help remind myself that today is a brand new day full of possibility. If you feel that you can use support in managing your thoughts and feelings related to yesterday or anything else, please reach out!