S03E12 – Devastation & Mental Health – Nokhez – Part 1 of 2


In this riveting podcast episode, Ali and Nokhez dive deep into the emotional and psychological impacts of the regional crisis, especially in an age dominated by the relentless flow of information. They discuss the challenges posed by modern technology, the emotional toll of constantly being exposed to global tragedies, and the unique intensity surrounding the regional situation.

Offering both personal experiences and professional insights, the duo also sheds light on strategies for emotional regulation and the importance of mental well-being. Join them as they advocate for mindful information consumption, introspection, and the crucial role of mental health professionals in these tumultuous times.

#EmotionalWellbeing #InformationOverload #MentalHealthAwareness #MindfulConsumption #GlobalTragediesImpact #EmotionalRegulation #ModernChallenges



MHAE Website | https://www.mentalhealth.ae 
MHAE Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/mentalhealthae 


Chapter 1: Introduction (00:05 – 01:16)

  • Introducing the overarching topic: the impact of the regional crisis.
  • Highlighting the challenges posed by modern technology and the inundation of information.
  • Ali and Nokhez present themselves and their distinct viewpoints on the subject.

Chapter 2: Evolution of Information Consumption (01:27 – 03:18)

  • Exploring the transformation of global events’ exposure through social media.
  • Discussing the pros and cons of having constant access to news and information.
  • Nokhez shares insights into how our brains process such vast amounts of data and its implications on our psyche.

Chapter 3: Emotional Toll and Guilt (03:19 – 08:47)

  • Delving into the emotional repercussions of being constantly exposed to global crises.
  • Reflecting on the unique intensity and emotional weight of the regional situation.
  • Ali and Nokhez converse about the guilt arising from witnessing such tragedies from a distance.

Chapter 4: Strategies for Emotional Regulation (08:48 – 13:02)

  • Addressing the importance of managing one’s emotions during these trying times.
  • Nokhez offers coping mechanisms, emphasizing mindful information consumption, introspection, and community engagement.
  • Ali and Nokhez share personal experiences of employing these strategies during challenging times.

Chapter 5: Mental Health & Seeking Help (13:03 – 24:14)

  • Highlighting the significance of mental well-being in the face of global tragedies.
  • Underscoring the pivotal role mental health professionals play in providing support and guidance.
  • Nokhez emphasizes seeking professional aid, while Ali stresses the destigmatization of mental health issues.


Hey, guys, welcome back. We’re here for another episode. This one’s going to be an interesting one. I know I keep saying that every episode, but this one’s really going to be, like, extra interesting.


I think it’s also because it’s quite relevant.


Yes, it’s very relevant and it most probably will get me in trouble. So let’s just go headfirst right into it. Let’s go. So here’s the issue, if you’re not already aware, podcast is based out of the United Arab Emirates and we are currently in the region in a crisis of a situation. With the conflict that’s been going on, the Palestinian situation is dire. Would be, I think, the politest way that I can put it sitting here. There’s not a whole lot we can do for the situation there. Everybody does what they can in their capacity. But today I want to kind of focus on the discussion of what we can do and how we can manage with social media constantly exposing us to what’s going on in the situation repetitively, again and again. It gets really heavy really fast for a lot of, you know, in the past, you’ve heard me talk in different podcasts about how much weight someone can carry.


This is a weight I don’t think anyone can carry. It’s just a lot. Back with me in the studio is Nojes.


Hi, guys, I’m back again.


Yes, he is. And we had an interesting conversation earlier. Then we’re like, you know what, let’s get it on recording and then let’s push it out as a podcast and hopefully helps. So tell me your thoughts on the situation.


I will first very quickly introduce myself. I’m a behavioral neuropsychologist here in Dubai. I’m a big mental health advocate and I’ve been on the podcast a few different times now. I’ve discussed gut health, teenagers, parents, and now I feel like with what is going on, there is a sense of urgency in terms of how to act, but also how to maintain ourselves during these times. As you mentioned, it’s not easy to just hear it on a singular basis. But now we’re having hourly updates on the frequency in which the information is coming in. I absolutely agree with you. It’s sometimes too heavy to carry, but it’s also too heavy to sometimes manage. Carrying and manage. The reason I see a slight difference is because one, you can carry and hold it, but the other one is management. How are you going to put the heavier bits aside and how are you going to focus on what’s actually happening around you in your physical reality?


And I’m not saying that well, it’s not that I’m not saying, but it’s because what we’re watching unravel over our social medias is from a physical distance, it’s easy to sometimes click out.


I hear you on that. But what’s happening now is a little bit different, right? So I think we’re going to take the talk a little bit general and then we’ll kind of narrow in. So we’ve always had situations around the world with different type of conflicts in different regions. We still haven’t gotten out of the Ukrainian situation.


There’s also the natural disasters.


Exactly. And we have natural disasters that have been absolutely horrendous. Just in the last year, we had earthquake in Turkey. We had floodings.


Just recently.


Exactly. Just recently. Afghanistan again. And it wasn’t like the first time. So this is just you know, we have all of these things that happen with time and we have exposure to them through social media and whatnot. But the current Palestinian situation, I think, is at a whole different level. This is not a singular incident that we’re hearing about again and hearing about the fallout from it. You pick up your phone and something new happened. You pick up the phone and something other new happened. And new media is on it and new perspectives are on it. The videos. Oh, my goodness. Heart wrenching, gruesome gory videos. I mean, you literally just look at it like you feel so helpless in that moment. You feel so absolutely helpless. So I think let’s start by talking about the consumption of social media. Tell me more about consumption of social media, given these things going around.


So I’m going to start very general and then I’m just going to base it on theme of just negative events. I’m not going to isolate to any particular events. So a few hundred years ago, the kind of information we would receive would be on an hourly basis or not just a couple of hundred years ago. I feel like parents would be a bit insulted if I said it was a couple of hundred years ago. But just 25 to 30 years ago, if you wanted to see what’s going on in the news, there would be a particular hour in which you could actually watch the news or in a newspaper.


That was it. Limited exposure.


Exactly. There was limited exposure. And were able to regulate ourselves with that. Now, the drastic change is that it is not that you watch it for that 1 hour and you get all the gory stuff. Now you watch it whenever you open your phone. You can get notifications whenever you like. I could be sitting and doing my own little whatever I’m doing. And then ping comes in a notification from Al Jazeera or from your news as to what is going on around the world. And it takes you out of the physical reality that you’re in and not that you can, but you now have the full objective reality of what’s going on somewhere else. And this constant back and forth and the level of consumption we’re looking at is double of what we have ever that we ever expected, even 2030 years ago. So there’s a change in the delivery of the social media, but also consumption.


We’re not looking at consumption from that 1 hour, and then we’re able to regulate and go back to our world. We are closer to the incident than ever before. I don’t mean physically in terms of.


Physical proximity, but you’re seeing it.


Yeah, you’re right.


You’re constantly seeing it. And it’s not just somebody in the news meter reporting it. This is somebody reporting on their phone uploading the people themselves. So you’re at ground zero.


I think the most gut wrenching narrative that I’ve come across is that people are watching someone’s entire life fall apart from the palm of their hands. And I know from how from just that isolated experience itself, you dissociate. And many people do. Many people just put their phones away. They’re like, I can’t deal with this. And you’re constantly swinging back from one extremity to another. 1 minute you’re like, I want to do something. But the next minute, you’re so helpless, you don’t know what to do to help that one person across the screen. And it’s also, psychologically speaking, it’s the closeness. Psychologically, we’re very attached to these pieces of shit. Yes.


These devices that connect us to everything. Connect us to everything.


Yeah. And that connectivity is not just on a sort of metaphorical or, like, a physical level, but we’re emotionally connected to it. We now know that this XYZ person in this XYZ place lost this XYZ. We know too much. We are too close to the narrative of loss that they’re experiencing. So there’s that change in the consumption. It is we know too much about the situation from up close in person. It is no longer that objective reality of, like, this is what happened. It is like, now this one singular person’s entire life story has unraveled in front of me.


It’s tragic. Yes, agreed. But like you said, I think how close it feels, even though it might not be physically close, we’re obviously thousands of miles from the situation or whatever it is. Not even 1% can compare to what is going on Ground Zero there. But it’s not just relatable. It’s hitting home. The university I’ve graduated from a couple of days ago, an email was sent out. We lost an alumni in Gaza. This is somebody who walked the same campus I walk. This is somebody who ate at the same cafeteria that I ate. This is one of my people. I don’t know the gentleman directly who passed away, but it feels like this is the guy next to me. I think you’re very right. The scope of what we’re seeing and how we’re absorbing that information has gotten really heavy. So a couple of questions that I have for you.


The first thing I want to ask you about is how do we regulate?


This is a tough one. This is one that I myself struggle with. This is something that I know that my friends are also struggling with, that clinical professionals have a hard time with, because we’re now facing the reality of can we switch off? And is it the right thing to do? And then you’ve got two kinds of narratives. You’ve got one which says, no, you can’t switch off. How dare you switch off? And that is one quite like I would say that is a very harsh extreme end. And the other extreme end is switch off. Dissociate. And not just my personal suggestion, but also what is suggested by evidence is that the best way to manage and regulate yourself during these times is having moments throughout the day where you check the news, actively be active about your approach. I’m not saying passively sit on instagram.


And that is also there are a lot of negative consequences of you just sitting and passively scrolling and coming across this information actively. What I would suggest is actively sit down throughout your day, whether it be like ten minutes scattered throughout the day, watch the news, see what’s going on, and then immediately after, speak to someone about what you’ve watched, because that helps with a sense of community. You know you’re not alone and that you can share how you’re feeling as well. So there’s direct catharsis. But also, another thing I would recommend is to really just regulate your breathing. What we don’t realize is when we’re focusing so close on a tiny little device and it’s yay close to your face, perceptually. And in terms of attention, we’ve just narrowed it down to this tiny little device. When I come from speaking from a neuropsychological perspective, if your attention is focused down to just that, your brain kind of forgets that there’s all this around to step away.


Yeah, take a step away, take a deep breath. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a deep breath. And I’m not saying switch off and put it aside. I’m saying take a deep breath, regulate, understand what’s happening, write it down somewhere, talk to someone so that you’re able to maintain the mental state that you’re in. Maintain that to a healthy mental state, to come back to it again and to be productive about it. The reason a lot of people feel very emotionally burnt out when they watch the news now is because they’ve watched it at such a high frequency and rate and they haven’t been able to regulate themselves and they now feel helpless. They’re like, oh my God, there’s all this weight that keeps getting added on. What do I do? Neither are you putting a piece down to see, do I need to carry this piece?


How do I carry this piece? And neither are you willing to share the weight with someone. So what are you expecting? Obviously, it’s going to be too much for you. So this is where I’d say these are two very basic strategies. It’s nothing fancy. Take a deep breath, switch it off or talk to someone. And this is in a lot of ways, it helps you just maintain the energy that you need to stay on board with this. As you said, there’s a lot of weight to it. There’s no way that you can carry this without regulating. And this goes for anything, whether it be the conflict, whether it be the natural disasters that we see. I mean, climate anxiety is also people also recommend the same thing for climate anxiety. You want to be proactive about it. You want to do something. You need to be in the mental state to also be able to do so.


You can’t just be frantically being like.


Oh, I need to do something. I hear what you’re saying, and I think the key thing that I’m still kind of struggling with, or perhaps I need a little bit more clarity with is in order to balance, I have to balance, but it’s hard for me to understand what the balance is. The situation doesn’t help me actively be able to step away. And I don’t know. I think this gets me to my next question. We can circle back for more clarity. There’s a lot of guilt. There’s a lot of guilt.


I think especially on this part of the world, there’s a lot of guilt.


So why am I feeling guilty? Okay, going to be a hard ass. Why am I feeling guilty? I got nothing to do with it. But why am I sitting here feeling guilt? Why am I sitting here feeling shame? Why am I feeling this helplessness? In my mind at least, it’s because I’m part of humanity, and I’m not seeing humanity humanitize, or whatever it is. I ran out of words. So talk to me about guilt. I understand. I’ve read a lot and seen a lot bad situation happens, and then there’s survivors guilt. But I didn’t survive it. I wasn’t even part of it. Why am I getting there’s? A lot of people I know that I’ve been speaking to the last week or so, and there’s a lot of this inner guilt that’s happening.


I think there are two things. Starting off with the fact that it’s so much in our personal space. In a way, we’re watching people’s lives fall apart through our phones. It’s insane. I’m a behavioral neuropsychologist. I see little kids on a day to day basis. My heart cannot stand watching what some of these kids are going through. When I see kids being displaced, and then suddenly I’m through going through the survival’s guilt, such as, like, what can I do? I’m just sitting here. And I think it’s exactly that narrative that a lot of people struggle with is that we are just sitting and we’re watching it’s so up close and personal. And in a way, it’s also good that there is a bit of guilt because it makes us proactive. And the way guilt functions or any emotion functions is that there is a little bit.


Like too little of it is not going to make us proactive. There’s a certain optimum amount that will make us proactive about it, and too much of it will result into us not doing anything about it. It’s the same way how stress works. Guilt is just another emotional arousal that we need to look at and we need to cater to according to how much we’re experiencing. If there’s too much, regulate yourself so that the optimal amount of guilt can actually make you do something, then there’s a lot you can do. Starting from just sharing the posts, reading news you don’t even have to share. Just read the news, be informed and use credible resources. Talk to the people around you. Look at the relief funds. Relief funds drives? Yeah, sorry, I’m mumbling over words here, but look into the relief drives that are happening. Collections.


What are people doing? Join a lot of the community talks as well. If you feel like you’re alone, a lot of the times when you join these community talks, you would realize that it’s not just you who’s facing something. And I do believe that this collective community sort of dynamic brings out the best in us because we feel like we can do something together. Science has always shown that two is better than one. So when you come together with other people, you have that sort of synergy in place and you’re able to also do something. Just how this is an example. You and I were facing a little bit of survivors guilt. We were feeling shit about what’s going on around the world, and were like, okay, what can we do? Talked about it, and here we are. We’re being productive about it. All right?


And I know this sounds there’s an element of selfishness that comes here because we’re trying to relieve ourselves of the guilt, but we’re doing that productively. We’re not just wishy washy, positive contribution, and we’re not crying. I mean, we’re crying about it too, but we’re also not just feeling helpless and hopeless about it.


I think what you said is very valuable. Having that guilt, channel it to a positive outlet, whether it’s just having conversations and getting more informed or whether it’s getting more active. Getting more active and participating with the relief funds and the activities. We have a ton of things happening in the country. The Emirates Red Crescent I posted on my Insta, and I’ve actually just posted it as a post or whatever it’s called, so it stays there. Huge list of centers. Hundreds of volunteers. Thousands of volunteers have been asked for.


To provide, and they’ve actually lost space for volunteers. I tried to apply and they were like, where I full capacity. And that made me feel good. I was just like, this is great. This is the right kind of problem to.


You know. And I’m also part of a bunch of different groups, activity based. So the boys like my off road guys and my other groups, they literally WhatsApp just started lighting up. What are we going to do? Let’s do something. What do you want to do? Let’s do this, let’s do that. Let’s do this. And I’m like, let’s go, let’s go. So next week, ten days is packed, but I think it’s good as long as I’m channeling all of this to something positive, I’m helping the best I can. I think this is I mean, it’s not the solution. The solution is that the problem shouldn’t have occurred to begin with is the only real solution. Now we’re just in a shit versus shit type of situation.


But even beyond, just, like, the conflict itself, with the natural disasters as well, there’s so much guilt that gets involved, especially for those who are from these places. I know that when there was a natural disaster last year in Pakistan, I didn’t know what to do. There was that sort of guilt paralysis almost, where I’m like, what could I do for my own people? And I know people on Ground Zero who could actually help and who would know what I could do. But I’m here, like, the fuck am I supposed to do?


You, I hear mean same thing when the earthquake in Turkey happened, I had friends there. When we had the floodings happen in Olivia, I had friends there. I had friends there. Actually, I had my own cousins from the UK visiting when the earthquake was happening. I called my uncle. I’m like, Are the kids okay? He goes, yeah, I just got off the phone. They’re in a different, you know, having people in these various locations, obviously, the first thing is check in on the people, you know, and if all is, then, you know, we go back to the what can we do? How can we channel it?


I mean, there’s a stepwise approach. Check in for the people that you know that are there. Check in on yourself. Are you okay as well? I think a lot of people tend to not do that. They don’t check in on themselves, and they keep pushing emotionally till they’re burnt out, and then they are physically paralyzed and emotionally paralyzed to do anything. So check in on your friends, check in on yourself, check your resources, share the information that you have. And then also, beyond just sharing, take time off to reflect on what you’ve read. Sometimes what we end up doing is we get in the cycle of just PostPost, post, and we’re reposting. We’re talking, we’re talking, and we completely forget to take time to actually reflect on what we’ve learned. I think this is a key element that people need to consider, because we post out and we put out so much information out there without reflection that we’re not making the right kind of action on those posts.


We’re not thinking about what’s the next step. My current issue, what I’m currently going through emotionally, is that, okay, all these things are happening to the youth, whether it be the natural disasters of the conflict, but how are we going to build an infrastructure that is going to help them just develop forward? How are we going to provide them a platform where they could heal from whatever they’re going through, especially the natural disasters and the conflict both. What is the next step when you lose your homes in these disasters and these devastations? How do you rebuild from that?


It’s tough. I remember it was a few years ago, we had massive floodings in Pakistan. A significant portion of the entire country was completely gone. Was completely gone. I mean, these people’s homes were flat completely.


Even last year, that was done.


Yes. The other issue that you have is you’re dealing with developing countries where the governments aren’t as robust as they need to be. Corruption is rampant. I remember anytime any disaster, national disasters happen in Pakistan going back all these years, I would get the calls, ali, where can we send support? Where can we send money? You need to okay a place to send us. I’m like, Dude, I’m not sure who’s going to put it in his pocket? Who’s going to deliver it?


And that’s the scary part. Even if you want to help, sometimes it’s blocked by other problems.


Yes, it is. And that made it hard. And I remember one particular incident, and I had all my friends from back in high school actually discussion on my WhatsApp high school group? And they’re like, Ali, they’re all over the world, but we’ll send it to you, and you just figure out where to send. I’m like, Just give me a minute. Let me sort it out. I started making some calls, sending some messages. Turns out one of my cousins was organizing in Pakistan. He was organizing this whole thing. And I’m like, Dude, I know you. I trust you. I’m getting money from my boys to send it to you 100%. It can’t go left, right? You got me? He goes, sir. Alibi. I got you. No problem. This guy got all the money, bought all the stuff, loaded the trucks, went with the Conway of trucks.


Or him and his buddies, they all went with the Conway of trucks and distributed themselves, and they were stopped multiple times along the way. Oh, we would like this bribe. Oh, we’re not going to let this truck through. We’re not going to do this. He just happened to know one of his uncles who was in the army, who sent a couple of armed jeeps with them and say army escort. But like what I said earlier, sometimes it’s just hard to even figure out how to help. And I think we’re lucky that especially in the UAE, the governmental organizations, the charitable organizations, so many of them Mashallah, they really put in a lot of hard work. And every single time anything’s happened, they’re first ones to step up and you see them going there. You see them with the planes. You see them with their distributions.


They’re on it. So I think we’re very fortunate that we have organizations in the country that we can trust that if we give support and money and resources or blankets and canned goods or whatever, we can trust them in knowing that it’s going to get to the person who needs it at the end of the day. So I think from that perspective, it’s good.


But the privilege guilt is also another there’s survival guilt, and then there’s the privilege guilt. And I know that a lot of us feel that, and it’s just this absolute dissociation of like, oh, but I’m in it, but I’m also not in it. And then you have this feeling like, oh, but I’m sitting in my fancy house with my fancy AC on, and I’m going to drive my fancy car to my fancy work now, and it starts hitting you. And then in those situations, that is when I do suggest just talking to a mental health professional who can help you really figure out how you’re feeling and also give you the tools as to what to do next. And I very strongly stand for this. It’s like they are therapists and they are mental health advocate, mental health first aiders as well, who will just be able to give you the right little tools to what to do next so that you don’t feel trapped in how you’re feeling, but that you’re able to action.


Yeah, actionalize it sorry, English is but actionize what you’re feeling and to take the next step forward.


I agree with you 100%, and I think this is important to also kind of take into consideration when we talk about mental health and everyone’s heard me say it’s okay not to be okay. And I really get upset when people trivialize somebody’s situation. Oh, why are you going through this? There’s people in the world who can’t eat, who don’t have a home. Okay, you know what? I’m still going through shit irrespective of what somebody else on the planet is going through. You just made me feel double shit. Didn’t solve the problem.


It just got worse.


It just got worse. You just took a dirty diaper and threw it on the wall like, Bro, come on. So I think you’re right. This is where it’s very important to not sink yourself and not to recess inwards, but go talk to somebody. Start by talking to a friend. But I think, like you said, talking to any level of mental health professional, even a coach or a mental health first aid or open, start talking because the more you talk, the more you will process, the more you will start to reach some sort of equilibrium, the more you will start channeling into productive directions. So I think this is really great. We have, I think, at least another episode, maybe two more because I have a lot to talk about. And I know Nilkez has an opinion on everything I like to talk about. So most definitely, we’re going to have another one.


I want to wrap this one up over here, but I’m going to put it out there straight. I don’t give a shit all what the political situation is. But when you killing children, shame on you, man. Shame on you. And with that unfortunate note, see you on the next one.


Bye, guys. Bye.