I don’t know about you, but being on social media right now feels particularly awful.
It’s not just because we’re being exposed to the horrors out of Israel and Gaza, which I do think are important to bear witness to, as much as we can. It’s because, at least in my corner of the internet, while we are being exposed to important information, calls to action and human stories, we’re also taking in the worst of humanity in the comments section — in the form of self-righteous, uninformed takes, hateful arguments and bad faith questions that don’t lead us anywhere.
And yet more times than I can say, since October 7, I’ve found myself sucked into social media for minutes and hours at a time, my fingers compulsively scrolling, filling myself up on rage and indignation. I don’t actually think any of that time helped make our world a better place. And while I don’t think we should all turn away from what’s happening in the world, I do think that taking care of ourselves and our families should remain a priority, and I do think that doing things away from the screen ultimately help make our activism and ourselves better.
If you’re struggling, like me, to pull your hands away from the phone screen, here are some ideas from myself and from Kveller readers that may help you out. If all else fails, I’ve found that literally putting your phone away on a high shelf is helpful; other people have suggested even locking it up in a timer lock box!
Get in the kitchen
Our friends at The Nosher have a list of incredible Jewish recipes that will both keep your hands busy and your tastebuds happy. If you want to make easier recipes that also take care of mealtime for the kids, how about this easy Israeli dinner that incorporates hot dogs, or this comfort food that kids love? We’ve got more easy, family-friendly recipes in our cookbook.
Sink into a book
Our readers have also recommended: “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, “Here All Along” by Sarah Hurwitz, “I Could Nosh” by Jake Cohen, “My Friend Anne Frank” by Hannah Pick-Goslar, Daniel Silva novels, the “Bridgerton” books and Andrea Gibson poetry.
Make a craft
Recently I loved making these air-dried clay bagel coasters. I’m generally a huge fan of air-dry clay crafts because I do not currently have access or time to go to a pottery studio. My kids and I also love making shrinky-dinks. Last year, I put together a list of Jewish moms who have amazing DIY craft ideas. Our readers also suggested: diamond painting, crocheting a baby blanket, making beaded bracelets, coloring and of course, if you celebrate it, this is a great time for Halloween crafts, because, as one reader wrote, “nothing is scarier than right now.”
Here at Kveller, we believe in comfort eating, and we also don’t want you to forget to eat (we’re Jewish parents, after all). Here are some things our readers are currently noshing: egg noodles, chicken soup, kasha varnishkes, warm challah with a glass of milk, a glass of martini and Cheetos (respect), falafel, cheese plates (with Lactaid on the side), gummies, Smart Food white cheddar popcorn, lox on a pumpernickel bagel, an entire bag of Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips and lots and lots of tea. Personally, all I want is some malawach, jachnun and bourekas. Comfort carbs are the best.
Be in community
One Kveller reader said she found comfort in “talking to my Palestinian-American friends and remembering our love is stronger than what divides us.” Many of you said you find comfort in your Jewish community — be it the fellow Jewish parents at school drop-off and pick-up or your synagogue. Readers suggested hosting Shabbat dinners and volunteering in your community.
Get physical and get breathing
So many of our readers said that going on walks has been helpful — taking dogs on long walks, hiking with other moms and enjoying fall weather. If you’re by a beach, walking by the ocean is always encouraged. One reader suggested taking your kids to a rock climbing gym. A reader in Israel suggested meditation, yoga and EFT tapping for when anxiety gets really bad.
Take a hot bath or take a nap (naps are honestly the only ways I’ve found comfort). Alternatively, if you’re happier in a more orderly home, clean your living space and declutter a bit (organizing is a mitzvah, after all).
Get into a show
OK, so watching TV still leaves your hands idle, but maybe you can pretend to be a kid in the ’80s and actually watch TV without your phone in your hands! Or if you’re like me, get a notebook or sketchbook to doodle while you watch instead.
Here are some shows our readers have been finding comfort in: Rewatching “Schitt’s Creek” from the beginning, “Bluey,” “Seinfeld,” “Doctor Who,” “Gilmore Girls,” the Hallmark channel, “Fiddler on the Roof,” cooking shows and Bravo TV.
Listen to some music
We may be biased, but Kveller made a playlist of uplifting Israeli music for difficult times that really hits the spot these days.
Readers suggest listening to: Gevolt, klezmer, classical, metal, Leonard Cohen, Paolo Nutuni and old Yiddish songs. Get in the car, go on a walk, put your headphones in, and let the music comfort you. If you’re not into music, consider a podcast. I’ve loved the new season of “Heavyweight.”
Games! They’re not just for kids! My family in Israel and my kids have been finding a lot of comfort and peace in building LEGOs (some of the adult LEGO sets are truly amazing, and make for lovely decor). And of course, since pandemic times, puzzles have been helping many of us keep sane. Maybe invite some friends from your community over for game night! It’s a great way to be off your screen and also be together.
Be with your kids
One reader said they love “having ‘babushka parties'” with their toddler: “We tie scarves on our heads and dance around.” Honestly, that sounds so cute. Putting your phone aside to play with your kids or the children in your life feels more important than ever now, and it will help them with their anxiety, too.
Engage in activism
One reader wrote that they find comfort in “marching for immediate ceasefire and peace;” another wrote they find it in “collecting drawings from kids in Argentina and sending them to folks in Israel and giving them to soldiers.” Yet another said that what helps them is “focusing on what I can do to help and be a support to others.”
You don’t need to be on social media to make a change. Use those fingers to call congress. Use those fingers to make signs and march. Use those fingers to find organizations that do important work that you can donate to or be a part of.
Take care of your mental health
Are none of these things giving you comfort? Are you having a hard time getting yourself up and moving? Whether or not you’ve seen a therapist or have had mental health issues before, this may be a good time to talk to someone. It may feel like a lot of people online are devaluing your pain right now, or minimizing it, telling you to get up and move and do things — chastising you if you aren’t. But this time is challenging — mentally, emotionally — and the grief and fear can feel cavernous. This is the time to ask for support if you need it.