How to cope with news on the Israel-Hamas conflict
Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel may have you on edge and glued to news alerts as the death toll continues to tick upward. The devastating details can cause collective feelings of sadness, stress and anxiety for many across the globe.
Tragic events can be difficult to manage, especially if they leave you feeling helpless to respond or help those in need.
“I hear people talking about this crisis and tragedy as feeling similar to the way they felt on September 11. This shows how tragedies always cause us to re-visit earlier crises and traumas we have experienced,” says Rev. Kevin Massey, Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care’s vice president of mission and spiritual care. “We all have one big pool of grief filled up over our lives by previous traumas and griefs we have experienced. I encourage people to allow themselves to feel what they are feeling. It is normal and natural to feel upset.”
And while it’s upsetting to hear about the attack, it can also cause feelings of uncertainty and worry about what will happen moving forward.
“When faced with global events that impact safety and well-being of others, it is not uncommon to feel a sense of unease, distress, sadness or even anger,” says Dr. Kim Miiller, director of trauma recovery & resilience. “These responses are to be expected and may be especially impactful to those with less personal distance from the event. It’s possible to find yourself worrying about the safety of others or imagining a situation or event threatening your own stability, safety or well-being or that of family or loves ones. When we witness an attack on humanity, it can be a natural and empathic response to imagine ourselves in a similar position contributing to distress as well as desire to help.”
Dr. Miiller says that although these emotional responses are normal, there are things you can do to help manage the distress associated with these global events that are largely outside of our personal control or impact.
“Finding ways to stay connected to activities and practices that help enhance well-being and take care of us are critical when faced with events that feel overwhelming or even impact our sense of justice and values,” she says.
Dr. Miiller and Rev. Massey recommend seeking social support, giving yourself permission to limit media exposure and avoiding holding in your emotions.
“Talking with other people helps us acknowledge our feelings and validate them,” says Dr. Miiller. “Seeking supportive interactions can also help alleviate feelings of distress during uncertain or overwhelming times.”
“We all experience grief in our own ways,” says Rev. Massey. “Please be very kind and gentle with yourself in the midst of this tragedy. Take care of yourself. I especially recommend that you seek out people you can talk with and share what you are going through. It helps us feel less lonely to hear from others how they are doing.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.