Harrowing images and distressing updates from Ukraine have filled the media this week.
Even if you’re thousands of miles away from the conflict and not directly impacted, it may still affect how you’re feeling at the moment.
Our member Lara Waycot said: “Through conversations with clients, friends and even with myself, it’s clear that the recent events are incredibly anxiety provoking. Even if we do not feel directly impacted, there is trepidation of what could be coming.”
Another of our members Vasia Toxavidi adds: “It’s normal that anxiety and fear will start to be on the rise for many people as uncertainty about security and safety is in the front of their minds again.”
She warns that people may start ‘catastrophising’ - which is when they start to imagine the worst possible results of something.
Some of our members have shared some tips on what you can do to help your mental health and wellbeing during this time.
Manage your news intake
Our member Abby Rawlinson says: “It's important to manage our news intake during worrying times. It's natural to want to stay informed, but too much news can be overwhelming. Find a couple of trusted sources that you can rely on and set a time limit for how much you consume.
“Of course, it's a privilege to be able to switch off from the reality of what’s happening in Ukraine right now – but it’s also OK to take media breaks for the sake of your mental health. Both things can be true.”
Lara adds that it’s worth being mindful of the effect the news is having on you as you watch, listen or read it.
“Notice what’s going on for you in your body and move onto something else if it gets too much.”
Remember your emotions are valid
“It can be tempting to push difficult feelings aside, but this tends to make them come back stronger,” says Abby.
“Let yourself feel whatever you're feeling. You may feel angry, anxious, sad, confused, or even numb – all of these emotions are valid. You're having a normal response to an abnormal situation.”
Have a ‘worry time’
Lara says that some people find creating a ‘worry time’ helpful.
She adds: “Set aside a time in your day when you will be able to sit with these feelings, maybe you will set a timer and use a journal to really explore them. Through the day when the worries come up, you can note them down and acknowledge that you will consider that during your worry time.”
Vasia says: “Being grateful for what we have keeps us centred and grounded and distracts the mind from the negativity. It also reminds us about how worthy our life is when we start losing hope and motivation by what is happening out there in the world.”Lara echoes her advice and adds: “When we are hyper vigilant we can see danger all around us. By practicing gratitude we start to train our brain to look out for these things too. Try ending each day writing down three things you are grateful for.”
Watch out for your inner critic
Abby says: “Watch out for your inner critic – it tends to get louder when we feel overwhelmed or powerless. You might feel ashamed that you don't know enough about why the conflict is happening, or you might feel guilty for worrying about how the conflict could affect you personally. Whilst these are understandable responses, try not to be too hard on yourself – self-criticism can fuel anxiety and fear. Try to notice your thoughts and feelings and respond to them with kindness and compassion.”
Do something fun and positive
Vasia recommends doing something fun to distract or educate ourselves, such as watching a film or documentary, or dancing, or listening to our favourite music. She adds: “No matter what’s happening out there it’s important to keep the good energy flowing within ourselves.”
And Lara adds: “Using our time to do something helpful for others can help us channel our energy into something productive, that feels good. Whether it’s raising money or helping a neighbour.”
Vasia recommends meditating or simple breathing exercises.
“It takes us out of our mind and connects us to our centre and our body. If we don’t know how to do it there are a number of apps and websites that can help us do that.”
Reach out for support
If how you’re feeling is affecting your daily life it might be time to reach out for professional support.
Counselling offers a safe, confidential place to talk to a trained professional about your feelings and concerns.
Your therapist can help you understand and explore your feelings and learn how to cope with them.
Vasia says that anxiety about world events often comes into the therapy room indirectly.
She adds: “The internal process of anxiety and fear that they’re going through relating to what is happening out there expands to other parts of their lives in subconscious ways.”
You can find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you using our Therapist directory.
What therapy can help with
An A-Z list of issues and concerns which may be helped by talking to a counsellor.
What is counselling?
Find out how counselling works, what therapists do and what happens in a therapy session.
What is anxiety? How do you deal with anxiety or help someone with anxiety? BACP member Caz Binstead explains how counselling can help.