On February 24th, 2022, Russia declared war on Ukraine. Many people have found themselves feeling uneasy about this trying time and have questioned how to handle yet another world crisis. Some would like to stand up and fight with Ukraine and others are concerned about the safety of their home country.
The last two years has been incredibly overwhelming with the global pandemic, and now with a present war playing out, it has created unsettling feelings, especially for those who want to contribute but feel helpless in the process.
From a Mental Health standpoint, it is imperative to keep in mind how this global crisis is impacting you specifically. On one side of things, it is important to educate oneself regarding what is going on in the world, and on the other, it is imperative to continue prioritizing your mental wellbeing.
Your mental well-being is pivotal in times of crisis. Doing what you can to prioritize your well-being is key.
Tips for Coping in Crisis
Limit News Intake
Seeing the different news headlines in regards to the war in Ukraine can cause intense anxiety. Whether individuals look out for updates on the war or not, it is something that isn’t easily avoided. While newspapers and news stations are a primary source to receive current updates, there are videos, articles, and other sources of information through a variety of different media sources.
This can come from blog posts, magazines, and social media sites. More traditional sites may give overviews regarding the current happenings, while the social media sites may only provide one side of the situation. Tuning into a blend of primary and secondary sources is okay, just be sure to establish how much is “too much” for you.
Find a Balance
To an extent it can be beneficial for us all to see what is going on around the world, but it can also become overwhelming and lead to intense anxiety and fear of what is to come. For those who are struggling to find a healthy balance between caring for oneself and educating oneself, it may be beneficial to put limitations on media outlets. This could mean setting a timer or adjusting settings on devices in order to control the amount of time spent on these topics.
Try to find the right balance for yourself and stick to it. If you find yourself turning to certain platforms too often, consider deleting it from your phone. It also may help to set a specific time of day to be utilized for reading articles, watching videos, or participating in conversations related to current events. Make sure the sources you are turning to are credible, in order to get current and correct information.
Boundaries in Social Situations
Aside from finding the topic of Ukraine and Russia on different media platforms, it is possible to find others talking about it in social situations or even in professional settings. It is important to recognize that it is more than okay to tell other people that you are uncomfortable discussing the topic, or that you are burnt out from talking about it. Additionally, if you express this but the conversation continues on, it may be a good idea to remove yourself from the situation.
Coping with Existential Feelings
Feelings of dread can impact any and all who are dealing with the fear of how these current events will play out. Anxiety, at its core, is about overthinking the ‘what ifs.’ There is always the possibility that things could turn to the worst case scenario, but from what we know at this time, it is unlikely to get that far. While it can be easy to give into those fears of what is to come, focusing on the facts we have now is key.
Additionally, having existential questions and thoughts in this time is normal. Connecting with a trusted friend, mentor, or trained therapist to unpack this area further can be very beneficial.
Recognizing Own Needs
Part of becoming healthier and happier as a person is becoming more self-aware. When we find ourselves focused on things that are bigger than we can handle, we need to turn to the things we can control. This means finding coping skills to rely on, such as mindfulness, exercise, talk therapy, and finding things to help that are within our control.
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in what you are doing. Feelings of anxiety or overwhelm are typically related to the difficulty of being present in the moment, often due to intense racing thoughts . While we all naturally use mindfulness in certain situations, there are specific circumstances that require a more purposeful approach.
In these situations, utilizing mindfulness takes practice. If mindfulness is something that feels less natural, mindfulness techniques can be implemented through a number of activities, such as: meditation while seated, walking, standing, or moving; taking purposeful pauses in everyday life; and participating in yoga or other sports that allow for meditation to be merged with daily activity.
Exercise has been proven to decrease our body’s sensitivity to anxiety. Exercise can also be a way to release tension and reduce feelings of fear and worry[Written by Very Well Mind[/efn_note]. The reason behind this is due to exercise decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, exercising increases endorphins, which naturally boosts an individual’s mood. Getting outside and off of the internet can positively impact an individual’s well-being and can promote gratitude.
Getting outside and off of the internet can positively impact an individual’s well-being and can promote gratitude.
In the midst of a pandemic and a war, it can be easy for us to forget all that we have. Take time to really appreciate what you have, such as family or friends, a job, a home, food, events to attend, etc. Being able to appreciate all of the positive things in our lives can reduce anxiety and can calm some of those fear-driven thoughts. If you have a support system who you trust to talk to regarding any of these thoughts, it may be beneficial for both parties to express how this trying time is impacting each of you.
Give Back However You Can
There are many organizations aimed at assisting those in Ukraine in financial ways. This is a way to give back to those in need. For those who are unable to support Ukraine financially, it is still possible to reach out to other’s who are being impacted. This can be through contacting friends of Ukrainian decent in fear for their country and loved ones. This also can be through reaching out to other’s on social media who are posting about their fears and offering some support. Helping others can boost mood and can help to curb the feeling of being helpless.
Anytime that one deals with anxiety, whether it be situational or generalized, they can benefit by speaking to a licensed therapist. The reasoning behind therapy is to develop healthy coping skills and to discuss the root of the anxiety. Therapists through Online-Therapy.com provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT assists in teaching individuals new ways of thinking and behaving, in order to promote positive growth and change. This can be beneficial to those dealing with situational anxiety, as it provides insight into different ways of thinking.
If you believe you are dealing with anxiety related to the War in Ukraine, our platform offers a complete online therapy toolbox which includes time with a personal therapist who can support your through your journey. If this is something you are interested in, we would love to hear from you!
Mindful. What is Mindfulness? (https://www.mindful.org/what-is-mindfulness/). Accessed on 03/14/22.
Sprout Social. What to do right now: How to navigate through a global crisis on social media. (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/how-to-navigate-global-crisis-on-social-media/). Accessed on 03/09/22.
Very Well Mind. How to Cope with Stress and Anxiety Caused by the War in Ukraine. (https://www.verywellmind.com/anxiety-about-ukraine-and-the-threat-of-war-5221204). Accessed 0n 03/10/22.
Very Well Mind. The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Exercise. (https://www.verywellmind.com/physical-exercise-for-panic-disorder-and-anxiety-2584094). Accessed on 03/14/22.