The Psychology EDIT October 2023

October has been a difficult month for many people. The crisis in the Middle East has caused and revealed emotional and political divisiveness, both in real life and across social media platforms.
In my practice, over the last couple of weeks, a great many people of all ages have been expressing sadness, and also an increase in anxieties, fears, and feelings of vulnerability. These feelings are further amplified because people have still not recovered from the deep-seated emotional response to having lived through the pandemic. People have been sharing with me a general sense of emotional unrest—probably best described as an existential dread—linked to these and other psychosocial and political struggles in our world.
Every generation has had its big challenges, but the pervasive onslaught of news and of social media makes it even more difficult than in the past to manage our emotional response to all that is going on in our world. Of course, our access also makes us more knowledgeable and educated—so it is a complex dynamic that can be confusing to emotionally regulate.
Let’s talk about some ways to cope even as we continue to stay engaged and passionate about the challenges and causes we face in our lifetime.
  • Limit how much media you consume on a daily basis. It can feel compelling to watch news media/social media as much as possible because it gives us a perceived sense of control. In reality, it is better to limit exposure to no more than a cumulative two hours a day. This includes scrolling through social media and news media that is playing ‘in the background’. A continued exposure to negative news is likely to increase anxiety and depression, especially in those who are predisposed to these. Parents need to be engaged in what news their child/teen is absorbing, especially through social media.
  • Do something that gives you real control. Pick a cause that you believe will make the world better. Get involved as a volunteer or fund raiser. Doing something to effect change will help inoculate you against existential fears and anxieties and help you feel that you are doing more than just watching.
  • When posting on social media, think about the impact your communication may have on members of your community/your child’s community. If each person took personal responsibility for not posting or reposting sweeping negative/hostile views on social media, it would significantly reduce the amount of rage and divisiveness on the internet and in real life.
  • Practice self-nurturing. In the place of consuming too much news media, use some of your time to actively focus on self-care: exercise, getting enough sleep, hobbies, spending time with friends, and consuming non-news media.
While we all hope for so many things to change, we can each do our best to improve our tiny corner of the world.