It has been one and half weeks living with the crisis in Ukraine. With many people it’s been a time with a variety of different, strong and also difficult feelings included but not limited to disbelief, fear, rage, worry, uncertainty, loneliness, anxiety, anger, ethical stress, frustration, helplessness, insecurity, guilt and sadness. Our feelings tell us that the matter in question is important to us and all these feelings are normal.

Why we feel what we feel and also the intensity of our feelings can be related e.g. to our earlier life experiences, crisis-related memories, personality, having family or friends in the area, life situations or media. Also questioning the meaning of all what is happening and injustice we see as well as finding our own struggles in life or work tasks less meaningful can influence us. How close we are to the crisis geographically or what is the historical connection to Russia can increase the intensity of our feelings too – not forgetting where we are physically at the moment.

We can catch ourselves easily thinking that we do not have the right to feel these feelings or the intensity is too high because there is so much worse for other people at the moment. This is understandable and to some extent it is also good to reframe. However, psychologically it is okay to feel all these feelings and there is no need to blame yourself for it. The way forward is not to deny or push away but to face them – recognize and name them – and then make a conscious decision how to cope with all different feelings and continue from there.

There are different ways we can help ourselves to cope and act in this situation and help others too. However, it is good to remember that as our feelings in the situation may be different to other people, also our coping strategies can be.

Here are some tips how we can deal with strong feelings:

1) Take care of your basic needs and daily routines

  • Sleep, eat, move your body, go to nature, cook, play with kids, work and continue your hobbies that help you to cope and promote the feeling of safety and continuity.

2) Ground yourself back to the present moment

  • Remind yourself that you are safe at the moment and nothing is threatening you right now – create a safe environment for yourself and in that way also to the people around you.
  • Remember to take care of your body-mind .-connection – breath, practice yoga or meditation or whatever is the way for you to calm down your nervous system and feel more grounded.

3) Be mindful with media and its content

  • Dose news and limit screen time and most importantly follow reliable media – avoid doom scrolling.

4) Connect with other people for peer and social support

  • Listen, talk, share feelings and be present.
  • Comfort others and let yourself be comforted too – we need each other.

5) Concentrate on things that you can decide and have an influence on as well as help

  • Focus on things that are in your hands – use your personal and professional strengths for common good.
  • Help others in the way that feels good to you (donate, demonstrate, volunteer, etc.) – helping others helps us also.

Hopefully some of the tips feel useful. However, if the feelings become unbearable and / or it is difficult to sleep, take care of your daily activities or responsibilities – do not hesitate to look for professional help. It is also fully okay.