Coping with distressing news and social media


Strategies to help look after your mental health in response to potentially distressing images and information.

In today’s digital age we are able to stay connected and keep up to date with people and events across the globe. This often comes with many advantages, however, in the context of the Israel-Hamas war, you may be feeling upset, distressed or overwhelmed. This may be exacerbated by social media which is exposing us to graphic and intentionally emotive content. Coping with potentially distressing content like this requires a delicate balance of staying informed and protecting our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Limit your exposure and set time limits

Limiting your exposure to news and information across a range of media sources is important to protect your wellbeing. Whilst staying informed is important, too much exposure can contribute to anxiety and despair.

Try this: Set clear boundaries by allocating specific times for news consumption and social media use. Consider avoiding social media and news outlets first thing in the morning and before bed. Setting your phone to grey scale mode may also be helpful in reducing the emotional impact of potentially distressing content.

Diversify your news sources

Ensure that you are getting your information from a variety of reputable sources. Diversifying your news intake can help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the situation and reduce risk of falling into an echo chamber of biased reporting.

Try this: Access your news via the radio or by reading articles, rather than only via television or social media where you are more likely to view upsetting images and videos. This may help reduce some of the distress and angst experienced when viewing graphic and violent images.

Find a balance with positive news

While it’s essential to be aware of global events, it’s equally important to maintain a balance. Actively seek out positive news stories or content that uplifts your spirits. This can help counterbalance the distressing updates.

Try this: It may be helpful to curate your social media feed during this time by muting/unfollowing any accounts that are providing constant updates on the Israel-Hamas war. Focus on filling your feed with positive and hopeful content.

Unplug and engage in self-care

It is important to routinely check-in with yourself and monitor your stress levels to know when the news becomes overwhelming and make the decision to unplug. Temporary breaks from social media and news outlets can give your mind the necessary respite it needs.

Try this: Engage in activities that help you relax and de-stress. Some examples of self-care activities are meditation, exercise, connecting with family and friends, or simply enjoying a favourite book or movie can provide a much-needed break from potentially distressing headlines.

Seek professional help

If these strategies do not work and you find yourself experiencing heightened levels of distress, sadness and/or anxiety, it may be time to seek professional help. You can access professional help in many ways. This may look like speaking with your GP, finding a counsellor/psychologist, or contacting a crisis support line such as Lifeline.

If you or someone that you know needs support, JewishCare and Jewish House are offering counselling to community members affected by the current crisis. For support during office hours, phone JewishCare on 1300 133 660. If our lines are busy, please leave a message and we will phone you back. For afterhours support, phone Jewish House on 1300 544 357.

If you require 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In emergency situations or if life is at risk, phone Emergency Services on 000.

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