Earlier this year, in January, our resident safety expert Rebecca Edwards posted a video about how to deal with stress and anxiety when watching footage of violent events.
Rebecca’s video was in reaction to the release of the footage of Tyre Nichols’s death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, and Rebecca offers some great advice.
“It’s just been on my mind about what our constant exposure to these events and these horrible parts of our society and world and the impact it can have on us,” Rebecca says. “It builds up on me after a while, even though I do it for a living.”
Here are eight tips from Rebecca:
1. Whatever you choose to do, take care of yourself and stay safe.
- “First of all, prepare yourself that you’re going to feel stuff after watching this — you’re going to feel upset,” Rebecca says.
- It’s important to recognize and remember that this kind of footage is traumatic and releases emotions we may not be prepared for.
2. Have an action plan
- Utilize your support system; talk to friends, loved ones, or a therapist to process your feelings; and get involved with organized events, like going to a vigil or community event, something that’s peaceful and positive.
- You can also go out and do something you enjoy “Take a walk, spend time with your pet, dance to your favorite song,” Rebecca says. You want to find “something that’s going to give you that little break that there are light spots in the world even when it feels so dark.”
3. Monitor your exposure
- Remember that you do not need to watch any of the traumatic footage. Monitoring your exposure and recognizing what’s best for you is essential.
- “I never watch these videos,” Rebecca says. “I read the articles, but I just can’t bring myself to embed those images in my brain.”
4. Engage in activism
- If you watch or don’t watch the video and don’t want to ignore the fact that traumatic events happened, you can engage in activism.
- Rebecca says, “You can hashtag them, you organize ideas, you can get engaged in activism that’s happening in the community – and that ensures that we remember the name, we acknowledge that it happened.”
5. Lift up vs. sharing trauma
- Sharing the footage unprompted—and unauthorized—can be perceived as sharing the trauma instead of helping others. Remembering the person instead of sharing footage to spread the trauma is important.
- “What we’re trying to do is lift the spirit of that person instead of sharing the trauma,” Rebecca says.