I think a bit of credit is due to Nefesh B’Nefesh; I’m hard on the Anglo aliyah movement, which probably makes no sense, but to their credit, I just received this email and it was well done.
Whether you are living in the North or in an area that is not directly affected by the current situation, you and/or members of your family may be having an emotional reaction. This is normal!
The following are some common emotions that people feel as a result of stressful situations: anxiety, fear, loss of control, anger, grief, lack of safety, concern for others, powerlessness, disillusionment, pride and shame. These emotions are sometimes accompanied by a physical element, as well. Inability to sleep properly, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, fatigue, crying, and outbursts of anger are common.
The feelings may evoke other experiences of loss such as the death of a close family member or friend or even the feelings of loss from having made Aliyah. Furthermore, the normal stress that you may feel as a new Oleh can compound this anxiety, resulting in a feeling of being overwhelmed emotionally and an inability to cope.
Here are some common manifestations of this stress:
– Preoccupation with terrorism and war
– Watching the news constantly
– Increased reactivity to small issues and events
– Increased moodiness and anxiety
– Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
– Strained relations with loved ones – either increased isolation or irritability
– Increased use of alcohol or drugs
The following are some effective ways of coping with stress, helping you to re-gain a sense of control over your life:
– Maintain a daily routine. Sticking to your normal schedule provides you with a feeling of stability when the world around you seems chaotic and can be comforting to your children, as well.
– Sleep regular hours.
– Take care of yourself. Eat properly, exercise, and make time for things you enjoy, such as hobbies and social activities. Caring for yourself and even having fun will help you stay balanced and enable you to better deal with stressful situations.
– Give yourself a “news” break. Be sure to control the amount of time you and your family spend watching and reading war-related news. Although it’s natural to seek out the media in order to stay informed, too much news can increase your anxiety. Consider limiting your news intake to no more than one hour a day, trying to avoid exposure to the media right before you go to bed when it is important to “wind down”. It’s okay to turn off the TV, radio or Internet and allow yourself to focus on non war-related topics.
– Talk about your feelings, but avoid lengthy discussion with people who are negative and pessimistic.
– Help yourself by helping others. Volunteering for a community organization or with needy families can be empowering.
– Escape in healthy ways. Video games, movies, hikes, and creative expression (singing, dancing, and cooking) can help maintain balance.
– Make connections. Keep in touch with family and friends. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens your ability to cope.
– Pray or meditate
– Have an emergency plan – it will make you feel in control and prepared for the unexpected. Establish a clear plan for how you, your family and friends will respond and connect in the event of a crisis. Have a family or neighborhood meeting to talk about whom to call in an emergency or a designated place to meet if you can’t reach someone by phone. Make a plan for your pets, as well, and a list of items you will need to take in an emergency.
– Prepare a security kit. Include passports, teudot zehut and other important personal documents. Remember to include items that give you and family members comfort and security such as photos of family members, a journal, a favorite book or a blanket. Include a list of your loved ones’ phone numbers so that you can reestablish contact with them as soon as possible. Prepare books, games, activity books and markers, a baby bottle, a change of clothes and plenty of imperishable food and water. Don’t forget phone cards, medications, prescriptions, emergency numbers and email addresses.
– Have kids pack their own bags, including games, arts and crafts, significant mementos, etc.
– Keep things in perspective. Try to see the stressful situation in a broader context, and remember that war ends and circumstances ultimately improve. Israel has survived 5 wars and continues to thrive. Keep in mind your reasons for deciding to make Aliyah.
– Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic and positive outlook will enable you to see the good things in your life and can keep you going even in the hardest times.
Many of us are also trying to calm the anxieties of loved ones abroad, who are carefully watching the situation in Israel. Here are some strategies for helping them deal with the stress:
– Send photos of normal life via cellphone or email.
– Suggest to family members outside of Israel to follow the news via Internet, JPost or YNET instead of CNN.
The NBN Department of Social Services is available to help through you this difficult time. Please be in contact with us at 02-659-5700. In the coming days we will also be arranging support groups in Jerusalem and Ranaana. Further information about these groups will be sent in a later email.