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How do we cope and how do we hope? Dealing with emotional stress after violence

Stress means angry, anxious, unpleasant thoughts are rattling around in our mind, and they are feeding each other like a snowball.

CLEVELAND — It was a long 2020, and 2021 is off to a rocky start following Wednesday’s events at the U.S. Capitol. The images and videos have the emotions of many Americans running hot.   

3News spoke to University Hospitals Vice Chair of the Department Of Psychiatry, Dr. Patrick Runnels, about how to cope and how to hope.

"It's easy for people's emotions to get wound up and boil over," Runnels said.

Runnels says even in a time like this, it is okay to disconnect for mental health purposes. He says stress means angry, anxious, unpleasant thoughts are rattling around in our mind, and they are feeding each other like a snowball. Clearing our mind is something we can all get good at.

"It could be something as simple as turning off technology, turning down lights, sitting down breathing," Runnels said. "There's actually evidence to show that one minute of intentional breathing, just breathing in for five seconds and breathing out for 10 seconds, can go a long way."

Runnels also mentioned other activities like cooking, and even showering can help with mental stability.

So, how do we hope for peace at a time like this? Runnels says it's about surrounding one's self with positivity, and that includes people.

"If you only tune into negativity and if you are surrounded by negativity. then negativity is where you will go," he explained. "There is actually emerging evidence to suggest that by ensuring that the way we interact with people involves intentionally positive interactions towards people and with people, that make us feel positively. That leads to us feeling more positive about how things can develop."

Runnels says it's about Intentionally finding positivity in your life by the interactions that you have with others.