As we all know, there was a terrorist attack yesterday outside of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. The death toll in the suspected suicide bombing is currently 22 and over 59 people are injured. There are people frantically looking for daughters, sons, parents, and friends. Needless to say, this attack was absolutely terrifying, especially considering the fact that most of the victims are children. In a world where terrorist attacks seem to happen on a semi-regular basis, it can feel like there are no safe spaces left. We used to only fear a plane hijacking or a bomb on a crowded train car. Now, we can’t even go to a concert without fearing for our lives.
As someone with some anxiety and general paranoia about my overall wellbeing, incidents like Manchester absolutely terrify me and bring out the worst in my thought process. Is anywhere safe? What are the chances that I could die in a terrorist attack? What the hell can I do? While there are no simple solutions to feeling a little less doom and gloom after a terrorist attack, there are a few things you can do to ease your anxiety at this time.
1. Stop watching cable news.
I was 10, going on 11-years-old, when 9/11 happened. I endured agonizing weeks of watching the same graphic footage over and over again. I was terrified of planes flying over my house for years, and I quickly developed an intense fear of flying. That footage impacts my anxiety to this day. Studies have shown that this endless loop of carnage can have an incredibly negative impact on us that goes beyond worsening our mood. You can actually develop PTSD from an incident you were never even in just from watching hours of news coverage. So while it might be tempting, try to watch something else. If you must stay informed, just check in on your news site of choice periodically or stick to print publications. You might want to stay off social media as well, especially if you’re sensitive to graphic images.
Besides, you don’t want to give the big TV networks what they want. As ghoulish as this sounds, the truth is that terrorism is a big money maker for this industry. The more you watch, the more the pundits and news anchors sensationalize the story, the more ad revenue the network receives. Unfortunately, these networks want you to be terrified into submission, or else they wouldn’t resort to disaster porn whenever a tragedy strikes.
Here’s a great video on this phenomenon:
News outlets are already replaying footage of the Manchester incident.
Be wary of what that’s doing to your brain: pic.twitter.com/KWX9ns3W9j
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 23, 2017
2. Do some math.
Yeah, I know, probably not the best way to unwind, but seriously. The news and propaganda machines are going to try to convince you that you have a high chance of being killed by a foreign terrorist, like a Syrian refugee. This kind of fear mongering is disgusting and does nothing more than spread support of xenophobic political ideologies. This is especially maddening since most of the terrorists involved in attacks in Europe and the States in the past couple of years were homegrown, not foreign. Anyway, in reality, the chances of you getting murdered by a terrorist refugee in the United States is one in three billion. You have a higher chance of getting eaten by a shark, dude.
Does this mean you have nothing to fear? Of course not. You should still take whatever safety precautions you can, like making sure you know where the exits are in any indoor space, or alerting someone if you see any unaccounted luggage, bags, or packages that are unaccounted for. But at the end of the day, statistically, you’ll be okay. Honestly, you do things every single day that put your life in danger. You have a higher chance of dying in a car accident, choking on your dinner, or slipping in the shower and cracking your head open than you do of getting killed in a terrorist attack. You’re probably not going to stop driving, eating, or showering, are you? No.
3. Talk to someone.
This sounds obvious, but think about it: Are you really talking about your feelings to your family or friends? Or are you silently sitting in front of the TV and liking a few #PrayForManchester posts on Instagram? Please, let it out. Talking through your worries can help you breathe easier and feel less alone. You can feel silly about being so upset about something that didn’t even happen to you, but like I said earlier, the news cycle can psychologically make us feel a lot closer to catastrophes of this nature. You’re not being too sensitive. If your anxiety is really bad, consider talking to a consoler at school or seeing a therapist. Who knows? You might have some other emotions to sort out that go beyond this terrorist attack.
4. Give more attention to the good deeds that happened in the wake of the incident.
Terrorist attacks can really make us question humanity as a whole. How can someone do this? What kind of society have we created that causes people to be seduced by violent ideology? Pro tip: Watching a shaky cell phone video of people running and screaming doesn’t make these questions easier to answer. Instead, try to focus on the kindness that has emerged from this tragedy. There were people offering their homes to scared and stranded concert goers. Taxi drivers were giving rides for free. People came out in full force to donate blood. Social media campaigns helped reunite friends.
How amazing is social media pic.twitter.com/7IoycnAjGZ
— k (@wtvrkatelyn) May 22, 2017
Little things like this might help restore your faith in humanity. They’re solemn reminders that there’s still some good in this effed up world of ours.
5. Allow yourself to move on.
You can be sad and mourn the victims of this vicious attack. You can want to feel less emotionally drained by it all too. You’re not a bad person for allowing yourself to compartmentalize this tragedy and distract yourself with something else. If anything, it’s healthy to want to move on rather than dwell in this kind of angst. If you pray, say a prayer. If you’re not religious, send out some positive thoughts. And then carry on with your normal tasks. Don’t skip a study session to watch the news. If you need to temporarily delete some apps to avoid feeling so upset, do it. Take a bath. Watch some funny Vine videos that you managed to bookmark. Do whatever you can to feel less miserable. I promise, this won’t be the first thing on your mind in a few days.
How are you feeling in the wake of the Manchester bombing? Tell us in the comments!