When you awoke on Wednesday to the news that Russian troops had crossed the border into Ukraine, how did you feel? I felt angry, sad, anxious and overwhelmingly impotent. I wanted to both scream and to cry. At the same time, I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep, so I could blot it all out.
For the past 48 hours there has been no escape from it. My friends are posting on Facebook, my children are talking about it at school and want to talk about it at home; it even affects my husband’s job.
I realised last night that it’s seriously affecting my emotional and mental health. I cannot do anything about the situation, but I can take responsibility for my own well-being. If you are feeling the same as I, perhaps you can join me in some positive action.
The first thing we must be clear about is that this level of self-care is not necessary for everyone. We may even come in for some criticism for taking this course. I liken it, however, to the advice I gave to my sensitive younger daughter when she had nightmares after watching horror films. The solution was simple: don’t watch horror films. She thought her friends would laugh at her but, when she explained, they were all understanding. We too may need to explain to some people. I hope they also will be supportive.
The first thing I did was isolate myself from the news. My husband and I awaken every morning, just before 6am, to Radio 4. We listen to Tweet of the Day (a 90-second piece on birds) then the news. This morning my husband turned the radio off at the end of the Tweet.
Yesterday I became involved in several discussions online. Today, I made the conscious choice to scroll by anything to do with current affairs.
I visited a friend, and we took her dog for a walk across the Fen. Today is a beautiful day. There was nothing but the flat land, water, vast blue sky and the constant wind. Oh, and a happy dog. My friend and I agreed not to talk about the “situation” and our fears; we talked of other things. With a good friend, you never run out of conversation.
I am still conscious of the anxiety at the back of my mind, so another thing I will do is listen to upbeat music. I love to read, and a practical self-help book will be better than escapist fiction as there won’t be that jolt back into reality at the end. I will watch a comedy or a feel-good series/documentary on TV. I will meditate.
We can all hope and pray; we can all send sympathetic thoughts to those caught up in it, but we owe it to ourselves, our families, and indeed the world, to guard our mental and emotional health. We cannot help those who suffer by suffering ourselves.
A Moodscope member.