From the YU Counseling Center: Mental Health Tips for Managing Anxiety During this Crisis
We are all heartbroken at the news coming out of Israel, and are looking for ways to support our family and friends who are there.
At the same time, it is important that we find ways to care for ourselves as well. Anxiety and worry take their toll, and we all need to find ways to protect ourselves from the onslaught of stress and fear that we see and feel all around us.
Here are some things we can do:
Try to create a routine for yourself and stick to it.
When we are struggling, routine is often what gets us through. Start with the building blocks of your day, scheduling times for waking up, going to bed, and eating meals. From there, build in time for socialization with friends and other restorative activities such as physical exercise and spending time outside. Structure is so valuable when living through a crisis, and taking care of our bodies allows us to take care of our minds and souls.
Avoid excessive news coverage.
Often we find ourselves checking the news compulsively. While we all want to know what is going on, excessive consumption ceases to be informative and is actually detrimental to our mental health, as it can weaken and exhaust us. Be mindful about how often you check the news, by limiting yourself to twice or three times per day and/or limiting the length of time you spend checking it.
Be wary when consuming social media.
Be careful about the type of media you consume. Stay away from images and videos that can be traumatizing to view. This means being selective about where you find your news, and staying away from platforms like TikTok and X (formerly Twitter).
Feelings of guilt are common during a crisis like this. Please practice self compassion instead.
We often feel we should be doing more. In response to this many of us watch the news perpetually, seeking to gain some sense of control. Others overextend ourselves in other ways. While we want to feel as one with our friends and family in Israel, we must recognize that depleting our own reserves does not help and is not what our nation needs. Notice if you are feeling guilty and talk about it with others.
Allow yourself to take breaks and be distracted. Play games, watch a movie, spend time with friends.
We are not created to sustain unending stress. It is both healthy and necessary to take breaks, and we should never feel guilty about allowing ourselves to be distracted from our worries. Similarly, we can encourage our friends to do the same. We are all in this together, and we want to stay strong together.
Think about the ways you can help others.
Stay active in your families and local communities, and connect with organizations in Israel. The benefits of giving are vast and well documented. Participating in a cause that is important to us is a healthy and productive way to restore a sense of control and give some meaning to the challenges we are facing. “Look to the helpers” is age old sage advice; “Be one of the helpers” is as well.
Watch out for your own mental health, and seek help when needed.
Those individuals with preexisting mental health conditions should be especially careful to keep up with treatment plans and watch out for any uptick in symptoms. For all of us, if distress inhibits your ability to perform activities of daily living please reach out for help. At YU, the Counseling Center is here for you and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that as individuals and as a community, we are very strong. These times are terribly challenging, and we may not feel that we are “ok.” But we will get through this together.
Debra Alper, PhD is assistant director of the Yeshiva University Counseling Center.