We were already feeling overwhelmed and exhausted after two-plus years of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time we also experienced a tense Presidential election, racial injustice and are coming up on another election cycle that will likely add to the tension yet again. Since early 2020 we have seen an increase in EAP use as well as other mental health-related services as people searched for ways to cope with increased stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. Now we find ourselves watching heartbreaking images coming out of Ukraine.
Since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine, we have seen images of death and devastation on the news and in our social media feeds. Families trying to get out, men being forced to stay behind to fight for their country. Images of small children and people carrying their pets in the cold across long dark roads without food or water. Those that have personal connections to Ukraine are constantly worried about the safety of friends and family who either remain there or are trying to get out.
Many of us have been well beyond our tipping point for the last two years and have been slowly trying to find our way back to some normalcy. Now fears have arisen both locally and globally about the potential for cyberattacks, increased oil and gas prices, along with the potential for nuclear escalation and even World War III.
So, what do we do about all of this? It’s normal to feel distressed and concerned by what we are watching unfold. However, following it too closely can result in disruptions to our own mental health, how we function at work and even lead to secondary trauma.
Similar tips apply now as they did over the course of the last two years:
- LIMIT MEDIA: If you find yourself glued to the television, take a step away. You don’t need to know everything that is happening. Set time limits for yourself and stick to reputable news sources. Remember, media affects kids too, so limit their time online or watching television.
- REDUCE SOCIAL MEDIA TIME: Overconsuming distressing news and images can increase your anxiety and disrupt your sleep. Avoid graphic images and turn off alerts to your phone.
- SELF-CARE: Practice self-care and focus on the things you do have control over. Take time to get out for a walk, practice yoga, mindfulness, or other calming activities. Unplug and take a break.
- TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT: Take some kind of action to support the people of Ukraine such as donating to an organization that is directly helping Ukrainians.
- KEEP A BALANCED VIEW: Try to look for some of the good and don’t just dwell on the bad. And if you need to cry, take time to do that as well.