Every theme I considered writing about this month seemed trivial in light of recent world events. It’s hard not to be affected by the horrific images of atrocities happening in Ukraine. As each day passes, the situation worsens, and my sense of helplessness increases. It’s difficult to reconcile how human beings continue to inflict so much damage onto others in the 21st century.
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. As humans, we have a deep sense of empathy and compassion towards others in distress. However, when we feel helpless, our anxiety levels can rise, leading to increased stress.
So this month, after pondering how I can possibly help in such a time of uncertainty, I decided to write a short piece about practicing self-compassion. Our ability to help others in distress might be limited, but our ability to look after ourselves is limitless. And when you feel stronger within, you’re more able to cope with the unexpected chaos life brings.
What Is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion isn’t something that comes naturally. When stressed, you’re more likely to be critical and harsh towards yourself than kind and understanding. Self-compassion is about being sensitive to your suffering and giving yourself the same kindness and attention you’d give to others in distress. It means forgiving yourself and understanding that you’re doing your best.
Taking time out for yourself isn’t self-indulgent or selfish. On the contrary, practicing self-compassion helps you manage stress better, become kinder to others, and deal with challenging situations in a healthier way.
If you’re struggling to balance your emotions with the chaos in the world, please take time out to practice these four simple strategies. I hope you find them helpful in coping with the present uncertainty.
1. Identify Your Feelings Without Judgment
We sometimes can’t avoid seeing devastating images on the news and our mobile devices. If you wish to keep up with the news but feel upset or anxious, learning to identify your feelings can help you cope. Being more mindful means stopping and examining your emotions. Try not to judge them or push them away. Instead, acknowledge that your feelings are present, see if you can identify what they are (e.g., sadness, fear), and then label them in a non-judgmental way. Focusing on your emotions helps you tune into what’s happening inside your mind and body and helps you choose how best to respond.
It’s easy to slip into feelings of helplessness when we see others being hurt. Or even guilt because we aren’t suffering in the same way. By understanding that these feelings are natural and learning how to recognise them, you’ll be kinder to yourself.
2. Do What You Can, But Don’t Put Yourself Under Immense Pressure
One of the joys of humanity is the coming together of people in a time of crisis. During Covid and lockdown, communities supported each other, neighbours rallying around the most vulnerable.
When a world crisis hits, it’s easier to feel overwhelmed and unable to help due to distance and language barriers. But there’s always something you can do. By carrying out a kind deed, you’ll not only help those facing the atrocities, but you’ll also give yourself some peace of mind.
Not everybody is blessed with a bank balance to support monetary donations. If you wish to donate but aren’t financially able to do so, don’t place yourself under even more pressure. There are other ways you can help, including:
- Boycotting corporate companies who refuse to leave Russia.
- Writing to your MP to push for more relaxed visa controls for Ukrainian families.
- Checking out local opportunities to donate particular items being specified other than clothes. For example, some things that are in short supply include paracetamol, cough mixture, protein bars, wet wipes, and toothbrushes/paste.
- Offering support and kindness to Ukrainian families in your local area.
- Following those in the know to help spread awareness. However, beware of fake news circulating. You can find a list of reputable reporters here.
The UK Government has also compiled a list of ways UK citizens can help.
If you wish to provide a financial donation, you can donate here
3. Remember You Aren’t Alone With Your Feelings
It’s easy to see others going about their daily lives and wonder if you’re the only one affected by the chaos and uncertainty. When that happens, self-criticism creeps in. Thoughts like “I’m too sensitive” or “I’m not as rational as other people” affect your emotions and exacerbate your stress levels.
Believe me. You are not alone with these feelings. I’ve watched television presenters break down on air, posts on social media indicating anxiety and fear, and I’ve spoken to friends who also feel unsure and distressed by recent events. We’re all human, and it’s completely natural to feel this level of upset.
Don’t bottle your feelings inside. Instead, open up to somebody willing to listen and make your family and friends aware of your struggles. It may seem trivial compared to the suffering of those directly involved, but talking openly and honestly will help you understand your emotions.
4. Don’t Turn To Alcohol To Numb Out Your Feelings
Alcohol is NOT going to help.
If I’d still been in denial about my own issues with alcohol, I’m 100% certain my drinking would’ve escalated during this time.
Stress and uncertainty are huge triggers, and it’s easy to use a drink to numb out.
While alcohol may seem like a stress reliever, it’s not doing anything to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Instead, it’s simply making it harder for you to notice how stressed out you are. It can also worsen your emotional stability by interfering with your sleep patterns, leaving you tired and irritable.
Alcohol isn’t a “fix-all” solution. Even if you feel better after one drink, you’ll be left with increased anxiety once the effects wear off. And each time you drink, it’ll take more and more alcohol to achieve the same relaxed state. What’s more, you’ll still have to face whatever issues caused your stress when you sober up again.
Staying away from alcohol is the best way of being kind to yourself. You’ll be more able to process your emotions with a clear, sober mind. If you feel tempted by alcohol, try these other techniques to help you manage stress when sober.
If you feel affected by the current crisis and need a non-judgmental space to talk, I’m always here to help. As a trained transformational coach, I’ll guide you in learning how to manage your emotions and practice self-compassion. Just like the beautiful sunflowers of Ukraine, lift your face to the sun and remember that storms never last. Peace will come again – never lose hope.
Nobody should feel alone during a time of uncertainty and chaos. So reach out and book a call. I’m here and ready to listen.