The ongoing armed conflict in the Ukraine and its raw imagery on our TV and in our social media feeds, is likely to be distressing to many people. Those Ukrainians in Australia with family and friends, and memories in Ukraine. It will also be distressing for Russians in Australia who do not agree with the armed conflict. It is also likely to be distressing for others who have experienced armed conflict and are now safety here in Australia. It can also be stressful and cause great uncertainty for many people who have been through 2 years of bushfires, climate anxiety, the pandemic, and now armed conflict in a place that many people will relate to. In addition we are seeing the images of the floods in in Queensland and NSW. These compounding impacts cannot be underestimated, and for many it will feel all too much.
The conflict and its impacts are way outside of our control, and this can make it feeling overwhelming. The key thing is to focus on the things you can control.
- Limit your exposure to news and social media. Pick one source, and check daily or twice daily for updates. Most news information doesn’t change quickly. Pick a trusted source. There will be plenty of fake news circulating. Manage the content in your social feed so that you are not exposed constantly.
- Look after your physical and mental health. This will help you feel better and able to cope. Eat well and don’t increase your alcohol or tobacco use. We have some good advice on looking after yourself.
- Support children and young people make sense of what is happening. Listen to what they have to say, answer their questions. Help children understand what happened. Be honest. Use information based on well sourced facts, not rumour or hope. Reassure them about the future. Try to keep normal routine (reading before bed, eating dinner together, watching TV together).Encourage play and fun. Make time for the family to be together and enjoy each other’s company, laugh. Be open about your thoughts and feelings, children will be aware of them anyway. Allow emotions to be shared in the family in a way which does not overwhelm. Let children cry, hang around you or the house, be clingy or physically close. Thank and praise children when appropriate. We have some guidance for you to help
- Reach out to people you know who might be affected. Let them know you are there. It will be important for them, but there is also a positive impact for you in making that connected. A simple “How are you going” and being prepared to listen without judgement or offering your own opinions is very powerful.
- Take action. You can take action by making a donation to a humanitarian agency. This could be doing work in the Ukraine or in neighbouring countries where people are fleeing to. Attend peace vigils or rallies, or do your own rituals to show support to people under great stress.
These are challenging times. Take time to look after yourself.
From neighbouring Poland, Hania Rani and Dobrowa Czocher one of my favourite albums at the moment