Feeling Anxious About Global Crises?
I'm not going to lie - I have written this intro paragraph about twenty times at this point. So many thoughts are swirling through my head that it's hard to know where to start. Can you relate? With the current state of the world, I imagine that you can. I decided to stop swirling and just write. I'm not censoring myself too much here because I want it to come directly from the heart. So, here goes.
First, let's address a Swirling Thought: "Charlotte, who do you think you are, commenting on a geopolitical crisis that is clearly not your area of expertise?”
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is SO not within my “scope" (aka what I'm legally and ethically authorized to work on with clients). However, as a therapist and as a human being it is impossible for me to ignore the psychological toll that the suffering of other people has on both myself and my clients. As I've watched the events of the last few days unfold, I have deeply considered what my role is in helping others trudge through yet another devastating global crisis. So I'm starting here, with you. I don't pretend to be an expert on geopolitical events, and I don't know how to “fix” this situation better than anyone else. But I'm in this with you. Educating myself, spreading information, donating time and resources in the ways that I know how to.
I figured that sharing my formula for managing Global Crisis Anxiety (GCA - yes, I just made this up - but honestly we need an acronym at this point) is a good place to start. Know your media consumption limits: While it is incredibly important to stay informed about events that are unfolding in Ukraine (and across the world in general), it is also crucial that you know your limits on crisis media consumption. If you find yourself unable to take a break from the news long enough to engage in some form of self-care or social interaction, it may be time to put the phone or laptop down. Consuming negative news stories can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which releases stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into our bodies. Over time, this can lead to heightened feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, and burnout. So if you're having a hard time pulling yourself away from the news or social media, here's a reframe for you: taking a short break from reading the news can help you gain the stamina needed to provide longer-time, sustained support to the Ukrainian people and other causes that you care about. The healthier you are, the bigger impact that you can make over time. Take action: It can be easy to feel helpless when crises are happening about 30,000 feet above our “pay grade.” One way to combat that feeling of helplessness is to take one small action to show your support - this can be through donating to a charity, sharing a link to credible information, or checking in on a friend who you imagine may be feeling scared or helpless as well (more on that below). Anxiety thrives on uncertainty - taking one decisive action cuts through the uncertainty in a way that can feel soothing and grounding.
Connect, connect, connect: I can't stress this one enough - we need each other. The last couple of years have been HARD on our sense of community and connection. When a crisis shakes our worlds, it is imperative that we reach out to our support system to remind ourselves that we are never (EVER) alone. In therapy sessions, I will sometimes allude the fact that I have been hearing the same themes and patterns come up across different conversations with clients (of course, always protecting confidentiality). I have learned that there is so much healing power in a simple sentence like “I've been hearing about this a lot throughout the last week; it seems as though collectively many of us are feeling this way.” The sense of relief that comes from knowing that we are not alone in our pain is palpable. Are you feeling scared, lonely, or anxious? I guarantee you that someone in your support system is feeling the exact same way today. Pick up the phone and call someone you trust with your feelings. Tell them what is on your heart and ask them what is on theirs. Remind yourself and others that we are never alone.
My sweet humans - I know you're tired. I get it. I feel it too. I wish I knew the words or actions that would lift the pain and let us all breathe again. But for now, this blog post is my little contribution to spread love and healing energy into a hurting world. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you be happy.
With so much love and compassion,