Ask Sheree: Violent Videos Leaves Manager Feeling Hopeless

Positive ways to combat the mental toll of current events surrounding minorities and law enforcement

mistakes at work
(Image: Sheree Franklin-Hill)

Dear Sheree,

Watching the videos of the senseless shooting of African Americans by police officers across the nation leaves me feeling hopeless and drained when I go to work in the morning. It is hard for me to sleep, and even more challenging as a person of color who is head of the department, to pretend that I do not hear racial comments made by some of my subordinates. I drive a luxury car, and each day I leave work feeling anxious and worried that I could be pulled over and arrested without doing anything wrong.
–Struggling

Let me commend you for being honest with yourself and recognizing what is going on inside you. There are four planes we exist at in life: the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual planes. Being aware of all the levels helps us to know when we are out of balance and need to tend to our own needs. Watching videos has a much stronger impact than reading a story in a magazine or newspaper. It is not uncommon for what we see to touch our hearts deeply, make us cry, and even very angry.  You are entitled to all your feelings and emotions.

First of all, I am going to suggest that you develop a support team of at least a couple of people who you respect and trust. (If you have a church community, seek counsel and support from them). Sharing on a regular basis with people you trust is a necessity, especially for a person who works in a leadership capacity. Leaders need to have a safe space that they can voice their concerns and seek advice and counsel. Even if you do not attend church, you can develop a daily prayer and meditation practice before you go into work. Pray for peace and harmony in your workplace and also that you are guided in handling sensitive issues that come up throughout the day.

To maintain wellness and health in your body, mind, and spirit, make sure you’re getting regular exercise to help release the endorphins needed to help you to think optimistically. You did not mention if you are getting proper nourishment to your body during this stressful time, so I am going to also encourage you to have regular and consistent meals that include fresh fruits and vegetables.

It is easy to become depressed when we are exposed to a sensory overload of bad news. A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to antidepressant medications, and new research suggests that acupuncture could be a promising option. One new study found the traditional Chinese practice to be as effective as antidepressants, and a different study found that acupuncture may help treat the medications’ side effects.  Acupuncture treatments are even covered by many insurance companies.

Another of my concerns is that you are coming home from a stressful work day and continuing the same cycle of watching extremely painful and violent videos. I am going to suggest that you take a technology break after work for at least two to three days. Give yourself time to focus on other things will allow your brain to create new thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Spend time with people who are sensitive to what is going on in and around us, and consider donating to organizations that are helping those who are impacted by the violence.

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