Most of us are watching the horrors at a distance. We don’t have the full sensory experience and trust me on this, you don’t want the full sensory experience. However, just watching photos and videos can be traumatic. So you need to do some self-care.
The first obvious recommendation is to take breaks from the news. If you need to remain somewhat connected, breaking news apps can be loaded on your phone, with push notifications. If something major breaks, you can turn back to the war. Otherwise, take some time off. Go for a walk. Listen to some music. Remember, Ukrainians are doing that, in the middle of a war.
Stress can lead to overeating. Watch what you eat. I know that I have had a tad of that issue myself. So it’s a meal-by-meal thing. It was not before this started. It’s not just war, or genocide.
It’s family history.
As a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I grew up with the dead. They were ever-present, if not fully there. As a child of genocide, there are things that you know are forbidden subjects. Not in the sense of we don’t talk about it. It’s more the family stories and the nightmares.
Some of the things my dad did, he did not tell me until a few months before his death. He was right, in the sense that the rest of my family would not get it. So he told my husband, a veteran, and me after he realized I saw some of the same as a medic.
It is the annual Holocaust remembrance when we sang partisan songs. It is the reading of the names of the dead. It is the school assembly where you could not escape. I went to a Jewish school in Mexico City, so spare me the reading of Ann Frank is traumatic in High School. One reason we are here is precisely not teaching about this. In Russia remembering and confronting genocide, like the Holodomor, is not something done.
As a child of a survivor, you learn that food is something that can disappear, and hoarding, in my case miniatures these days, is a thing. So is the deep sense of unease that something like the Holocaust could happen. When I saw this on Twitter, I immediately went back to family legends. My dad was doing this at the same age. He did it for 18 months. I wish this young man, who is no longer a boy, the same success as my father…with fewer nightmares.
So this is about your mental health. If you need to take a break, do so. For the moment we have that luxury. Avail yourself of it. We have had two horrific years due to the pandemic. This is adding to the existential threats. They are very real.
Also, appreciate what we have right now. Even though we are on the knife's edge of a hot war, we still have the ability to pull away from it.