Media outlets are heavy right now, featuring constant information about the devastation happening around the world, and specifically in Ukraine. This constant feed of information is not only hard to understand and process, but it can cause overwhelming emotions and feelings of guilt regarding moving forward with day-to-day life. It is essential to remain informed; however, this constant stream of information can become problematic when the information comes at the expense of one’s own mental health and well-being.
There is so much happening that is out of everyone’s control these days, and rather than getting stuck in feeling helpless people can try to shift the focus onto what is within one’s control. For example, choosing to limit exposure to these media outlets through unfollowing, limiting screen time, muting, or changing the channel. Additionally, here are some ways to cope with burnout and feeling overwhelmed:
- – Take time for reflection: notice how the news stories influence mood and well-being. Once awareness has been established, one can take direct steps to remedy the problems.
- – Set boundaries: limit exposure to information that is too much. It is important to note that one’s limits are fluid; they change day-to-day, and even throughout the day. One’s tolerance for overwhelming emotions constantly changes, so checking in with oneself is an essential part of knowing when a limit has been reached.
- – Acknowledge and feel your emotions: oftentimes emotional experiences can feel like getting knocked over by a wave. It’s hard to process and leaves us feeling disheveled and uncomfortable. Times continue to remain uncertain and unpredictable, so acknowledge that all those emotions coming up are valid and real. Rather than trying to run from these feelings, allow them to exist because they’re really showing how much you care.
- – Stay connected to real people: Reach out to loved ones. Set up a time for Facetime, or go old school and write a real letter. Stay connected to yourself too: get creative, reflect, or journal.
- – Breathe: The body responds to stress signals as if they are a real threat or danger. Focusing on slow, deep exhales actually activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system signaling to the brain that there is no danger. See the below image for a guided breathing technique when feeling anxious.
Things that are out of one’s control → Things that can be changed or controlled
News stories, headlines, breaking stories → How often, or when information is consumed
One’s own emotional reactions to news stories → How one reacts to their emotional experiences
When someone else brings up the news → One’s own limits and boundaries around discussing these topics
What can be done? Make donations, support others, and learn about causes and movements that matter. Be kind, develop new skills, practice self-care. Instead of looking at the entire staircase, just focus on taking one step at a time. A series of small steps can make a world of difference over time.
It’s no secret that these last two years have been a collectively devastating time, and with the news of what’s happening in Ukraine, many are feeling hopeless, helpless, and lost. Do what you can, take care of yourself, and be gentle with yourself because you’re human.