How to protect your mental health while reading news on war

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | October 15,2023 - 11:13 AM

How to protect your mental health while reading news on war

File photo | Sergey Zolkin/Unsplash

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Reading news about war can sometimes take a toll on people’s mental health.

When news about the Israel-Hamas war broke online, people who are reading information online could have had mixed emotions, especially when they are aware that there could be someone they know who is in the war zone.

Dr. Anna Kathrina Oaminal-Watin, a local clinical psychologist in Cebu, said that reading news about war could give the people “a sense of anxiety.”

READ: Mental health must be top priority says Cebu clinical psychologist

Read only reliable info

Because of the negative and unfortunate events that happen in the war, people get to be fearful about it.

To handle this, Dr. Oaminal-Watin suggests only reading reliable information.

“What’s important is that we get to only the news that are reliable. There is no need to read everything,” she said.

READ: Mental health treatment should not be reserved for the rich

Filter what you read online

She added that nowadays, everybody would have an opinion even when they did not study foreign affairs, or other studies related to it.

With this, she said that people might filter what they read online by focusing only on reliable media outlets.

Through this, she believes that it could lessen people’s anxiety when reading news about the war online.

READ: Mental Health Day: The need to defuse a ticking time bomb for millions

Handling anxiety

On top of that, she said that it would be very important for people to be aware of what was happening to the world.

According to Dr. Stephanie Collier, an instructor in Harvard Medical School, war anxiety is also known as nuclear anxiety, which is a person’s usual reaction to news and images concerning conflict.

“Anxiety is often an appropriate response to life stressors, and a small amount of anxiety is adaptive—it signals your body to take a threat seriously,” Collier said.

And to handle such anxiety, Collier has some coping mechanisms that could help the person cope with it.

READ: Mental health woes: DOH-7 urges public to call hotlines when they need help

Tips on how to do this

The first thing is to limit media exposure to less than 30 minutes daily as well as before going to bed, to combat the negative effects of consuming “emotionally-gripping” news.

Another way is to change your routine like doing anxiety-reducing activities such as a 15-minute nature walk, deep breathing and mindfulness, and doing exercises that are healthy for the body.

Collier added that if war anxiety would begin interfering with your work, sleep, or well-being, it would be better to seek professional help for therapy and medications.

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TAGS: Dr. Oaminal-Watin, mental health, online news, war

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