Now, as Covid will hit the two-year mark next month and restrictions are starting to lift, there has been a collective sigh of relief. However, we are beset by another global catastrophe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Coverage of the war can be especially difficult, given that so many American citizens fled war-torn countries to live safely in the United States. Many will be re-traumatized as they watch the citizens of Ukraine abruptly leave their country to seek solace in other parts of the world.
Given the slow-down of the last two years, people were forced to rethink their lives, create more work-life balance and set new goals. Now that we are finally coming out of the woods with respect to the pandemic, we have to cope with another major event. We worry knowing that it is easier to start and sustain a war after a period of destabilization, as historians have noted. For instance, WW2 started right after the Depression.
Even though the crisis is on the other side of the world, there are many immigrants from Russia and Ukraine in our cities, thus making us feel closer to that part of the world. The recent invasion has shaken our sense of security as we were just starting to feel secure again.
Where do we go from here and what do we do now?
Some ideas are as follows:
- We can start by focusing on gathering information from credible news sources.
- We may want to set some boundaries such as, keeping the TV off, and closing news briefs and apps on our phone.
- It can be helpful to spend time with friends and family and focus on other matters such as your activities, work and plans this summer. You may want to make an agreement with friends and family that you will limit your discussion of the war.
- Focus on a consistent routine as this may help you to feel that you have control over your life vs. worrying about the matters that you don’t have control of. Once you return to reading about the pandemic or the war, you may feel calmer and more able to manage.
- It’s important to ensure that you are getting 3 meals a day, some snacks, plenty of water, rest, and exercise if that feels helpful for you.
- Try to avoid maladaptive coping strategies like drugs, alcohol, overeating, and over spending.
- Postpone any big decisions until you feel you are in the right “frame of mind” to make them.
- If you feel sad or angry, try to speak to a trusted friend or professional. It is better to allow yourself to feel any emotions that come up. If you don’t have a counselor, Talkspace is a good place to start.
- If you have children or are in a caregiving role to children, make sure they know that you are available and open to answer any questions that they may have.
One of the most healing things that you can do is to reach out to organizations that are assisting people in Ukraine or refugees who are seeking asylum elsewhere. If you want to help out closer to home, many people within our own community have needs and can use support during these challenging times.
Here are some organizations that you can support:
Ukraine Humanitarian Fund
Ukrainian Red Cross
Save the Children
Ukraine Crisis Appeal
These are tough times and I hope my tips provide some help as we all navigate what’s to come in the future.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.