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The recent events of the Israel-Hamas War have been deeply upsetting to bear witness to, and many of us are feeling a range of emotional reactions from sadness to rage to fear.

It may feel like your entire feed is weighing in or re-sharing stories and videos of the acts of violence that have taken place. Ongoing exposure to upsetting news can activate a fear or anxiety response, and if gone unchecked, can lead us to experience vicarious trauma. Keeping an eye on your mental health is especially important during these challenging times.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to support yourself:

  • Check in with yourself. Images, videos, and stories like the ones being posted on social media from Israel and Gaza right now can be very emotionally activating. If you’re noticing persisting distress after learning about these events, it may be beneficial to take some breaks from social media or news consumption. You can take a pause and bring down your anxiety level while still staying aware.
  • Lean on your support system. Connecting with trusted others and talking about what’s on your mind can help you process what you’ve been seeing. Reach out for support, and encourage open and empathetic communication in your relationships while appreciating that the events may impact each individual differently.
  • Sit with your emotions. It’s okay to sit with some of your tougher feelings without trying to change them. It is normal to feel an impact when we witness suffering in others. For many, there’s confusion and a lack of understanding around the nuances that exist here. Let yourself sit with whatever reactions you are having and acknowledge your feelings without judgment.
  • Consider talking with a professional. If you find that it’s difficult to focus your attention on anything else, if you’re having prolonged difficulty (beyond a few days) with sleep, functioning at work, or if your relationships with others are starting to suffer, it may be helpful to talk with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you process your own emotions and come up with a plan for how you want to move through them in a way that’s healthy, safe and effective.

These events impact each person uniquely. Participating in self-care, connecting with loved ones, or seeking out professional support can offer us important guidance during uncertain times.

Additional Resources:

Psychologist On How to Talk to Children About the Israel-Hamas War – Dr. Jamie Howard, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, joins “CBS Mornings” with advice on how parents can talk with their children about the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza.

Setting Boundaries and Caring for Your Mind in a Difficult World – This Mental Health America article addresses the emotional impact of constant news exposure and suggests strategies such as disconnecting from screens, practicing mindfulness, journaling, helping others, and seeking support to protect your mental well-being.