Looking after your mental health during difficult news events

As the present conflict in the Middle East continues, the following written prayers and remarks may be beneficial in responding in Christian faith and acknowledging our thoughts and emotions about what we see and hear in the news.  The first two are from our Book of Common Prayer:

A Prayer for the Peace of the World

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed; Kindle, we pray thee, in every heart the true love of peace; and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity thy kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for the Sick and Suffering

Heavenly Father, we pray for the sick and suffering. Help them to know your love that they may seek strength from you, and find peace and healing in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for Israel and Palestine

The Archbishop of Dublin and the Dublin and Glendalough Council for Mission, who maintain a close diocesan link with the Diocese of Jerusalem, have drawn together a resource for prayer and reflection which can be found and read here.

Related statements and articles

Looking after your mental health when difficult news breaks

The Mental Health Foundation has created some advice to help you cope and support your loved ones during these uncertain times, which has been shared and adapted by the MindMatters COI staff and the Church of Ireland Press Office.

When intense suffering is covered in the world news, it can affect our mental health. After learning about global events that cause uncertainty, you may feel fear, anxiety or a loss of control over your own life and plans. You may worry for the safety of strangers, loved ones or yourself. And if you have lived through similar events in the past, it may bring up traumatic memories.

Know that whatever you feel is valid.

Know that God (and others around you) cares about you and your mental health.

And know that you are not alone in this.

Staying informed – but being aware of your limits

Ask yourself – “How much information and difficult world news am I currently taking in? And how does it make me feel?”

If it’s having a negative effect on how you feel, try to:

  • take a short break from the news
  • mute or turn off news notifications on your smartphone
  • mute or unfollow social media accounts that are reporting on it
  • or limit your news intake to once a day

After you’ve had a break, ask yourself – “How do I feel now that I’ve had a space from the news?”

If you find that the break has helped, then try to continue:

  • to stay informed in bitesize portions
  • to take space from the news when you need to
  • to pause and check in on how you feel
  • to engage with different social media platforms based on how they make you feel

Over and above those, try to be intentional in how you are consuming news, and, as much as you can, avoid long ‘scrolling through’ sessions.

Try to accept that, although we may want to help or change the current situation, some of these things may be out of our control.

Seeking support in a community

If the uncertainty surrounding the news is bringing about feelings of fear and isolation, remember that there are always other people that are feeling the exact same way right now and that there are things that we can do to tackle this.

Something you can do to tackle these feelings is to connect with your local community. This can help you to feel more empowered, connected and less alone.

You can connect with your local community by:

  • getting involved in local volunteering opportunities
  • joining local groups working on issues that are important to you
  • joining a local social media group to connect with people in your local area

Humans are created and neurologically wired to connect with others. Helping others and engaging with our local community in a meaningful way is good for our mental health.

When talking with other people about world news, if a topic comes up which you disagree on, try to focus on active listening and respectful discussion. Being drawn into highly polarised or disrespectful conversations usually has an adverse effect on our wellbeing.  If a comment upsets you, try to take a break, pause the conversation and come back when you feel ready.

When you feel overwhelmed, try to reach out for support. There are people and organisations that want to help.  You may wish, for example, to talk to a friend, family member or your GP or to call a helpline such as the Samaritans.

You could also try to express how you are feeling through creativity. You could write in a journal, listen to a song, draw or dance. Express in a way that feels good for you. Try to stay with those activities for at least a few minutes to unlock their protective effects on your wellbeing.


Looking after your general mental health

Try to keep allocating time to things, activities and actions that are good for your mental health.

What works will be different for each person, so tune into what is right for you. Here are a few things to get your started. Try to:

  • have a healthy sleep routine
  • bring movement into your day
  • nourish your body and mind with healthy foods
  • spend quality time with friends, family and loved ones
  • connect with the natural world to help reduce stress and improve your mood

All of these can help you to feel better and to take your mind off the stress of the news cycle.

You can find out more about our MindMatters mental health awareness initiative on its website at https://mindmatters.ireland.anglican.org