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Monarch expert shares ways to be mindful in the wake of civil unrest

KarenHolstWeb

Peaceful protests and awareness events, followed by civil unrest can have overwhelming and long-lasting emotional effects. As Charlotte business owners, retailers, volunteers and city officials clean up debris left by rioting in Uptown, the week’s events have left some speculating whether there is more to come. Whether it happens near or far, to us or someone else, we are impacted by what we see and hear.

Monarch experts share that feelings of fear, loss, sadness, anger, etc. are normal emotional reactions to the events that happen around us. Dr. Karen Holst, a clinical operations manager at Monarch, said people should be conscience of the types and amounts of information we digest.

“Being aware of events in our community is important; however, just as we need to pay attention to the types and amounts of food we consume, we can be aware of the types and amounts of information we feed our minds,” Holst explains. “With the current concerns in our community, it is easy to become consumed with the events. Taking breaks from watching television covering the events and talking with others about the events provides a necessary break from the constant input of emotionally charged news stories.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Holst, a mindfulness-based stress reduction expert, said it’s a good idea to limit your news exposure, focus on what you can control, and engage in self-care. She shares some additional recommendations to help you to practice being more mindful as a way to practice self-care and care for others.

Focus on the positive. During times of unrest it is natural to focus on the tragedy of the events. Taking time to fully appreciate the positive aspects of life can provide a place of grounding. Recognizing love and care for family members, friends and co-workers can help reframe situations so we can remember and celebrate the goodness in one other. Take time to engage in typical daily activities, such as grocery shopping. During these times, see if you can be fully present in that experience. If your mind wanders to thoughts about the current unrest, work to bring awareness back to the activity.

Quiet time. During times of quietness, notice how much the mind may tend to wander to thinking about current events. See if you can fully be present with whatever activity you are engaged in, fully engaging all the senses. Notice colors, angles and lines that you see. Note sounds close by and distant. Be aware of the sensation of touch and moving your body with intention. When we nurture our senses fully, we can break the chain of ruminating about events.

Consider mindfulness. Engage in a guided meditation to provide time for yourself to just be still. Meditation deactivates the sympathetic nervous system, which is the system activated by stress. Guided meditations are freely available on YouTube. 

If you are overwhelmed by your feelings and need support, contact Monarch at (866) 272-7826 to schedule an appointment or for more information.

The following organizations offer important resources that can help people to cope:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – http://www.nami.org/
National Institute of Mental Health – http://www.nimh.nih.gov 
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) – http://www.samhsa.gov/
National Council for Behavioral Health – http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/ 

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