Today I would like to talk about the turbulence that this world has been experiencing, with the surge of COVID-19 cases and the war in Ukraine.
Living in Singapore, we are blessed. Most of us have shelter above our heads, food on our plates, and no natural disasters, we live each day on relatively peaceful terms. However, the past 2 years have rocked the boats of many. Many of us have experienced loss, the loss of freedom, loss of loved ones, loss of a job, loss of normalcy, loss of finances, or even a loss of the boundaries that separated work and life.
Now, another major world incident, the war, has caused many of us to feel even more shaken, fearful, helpless, or angry. There are so many things happening that are turning the once peaceful predictable life that many of us had into one that’s a turbulent rollercoaster ride. As with being on a rollercoaster, you might be able to see the ups and downs coming but there’s little you can do to change it. You can scream, cry, laugh, keep quiet, or even enjoy the ride.
The same goes for what’s happening in the world and in our lives now. Many of us might experience feelings that we don’t usually have to experience and might feel confused about what to do with them. Just like all of you, I experience similar feelings too. I have friends in Ukraine and I worry for them. I have people around me getting COVID-19 day in and out and have elderly parents around me and see clients too. I have lost people over these 2 years and sometimes I feel a bit worried, a bit fearful, a bit angry, and also a bit tired.
So what can we do since we cannot control COVID-19 and we cannot control the war?
Tips from a Psychologist in Singapore to manage feelings of helplessness, anger, fear, grief, sadness, or even being overwhelmed?
Step 1: Be aware of what you are feeling
Sit down and truly ask yourself, “How am I feeling with everything that’s going on in the world right now?” Notice the sensations in your body, the emotions that arise, the thoughts that come up. If it helps, write it down somewhere for your reference
Step 2: Create space and allow yourself to feel the feelings
This can be through mindfulness practices of allowing yourself to feel your emotions, speaking to a friend or family member, journaling, or speaking to a mental health professional. The main goal is not to push your feelings away but to allow your feelings to be as they are and not try to change them or fight them.
Step 3: Practice loving-kindness towards yourself and others
Approach your feelings, yourself, and others with loving-kindness. Find some phrases of loving-kindness that resonate best with you. Say them to yourself, to those affected by the war, by COVID-19, to the people around you, and to everyone around the world.
Some examples might be:
- May I (you) be kind to myself
- May I (you) feel peace
- May I (you) begin to accept myself as I am
- May I (you) be healthy
- May I (you) be safe
Repeat these phrases to yourself silently or out loud. You may alternatively practice formal loving-kindness meditation.
Step 4: Mindful consumption of the news
The news and other media out there thrive by writing pieces that capture your attention through your heart, they want you to feel angry, happy, sad, or any emotion at all. Why? That keeps you reading and their rating increase. However, in the long run, that is harmful to you and might cause you more emotional pain and distress. It’s just like how social media if consumed right, can help. If consumed in large quantities or not mindfully, it can hurt.
What you can do instead is be mindful when you’re reading the news. Notice your body, your feelings, and your thoughts, catch yourself if you’re getting too caught up in it. Understand the gist of the news and move to something else. Set time frames for when and how long you read the news.
Step 5: Lastly, take action.
Taking action comes in many forms. If your heart wants to do something, understand your limitations and do what you can. When I asked my friends in Ukraine what they needed, they said, “Pray for us, we just want to live”. Something as simple as praying can mean so much to others. If you want to do something tangible, donate (How to donate in the Ukraine crisis – Vox). There are many organisations finding ways to help the people of Ukraine. Lastly but just as importantly, take care of your feelings. Taking action involves caring for yourself. If you aren’t in a good shape, it’s difficult to help.
For myself, I have chosen to consume little news, get the gist of what’s happening, reach out to my friends in Ukraine, pray for them, continue to take care of myself, and continue my daily life but with an added reflection that I’ve been doing. With everything that is happening, I reorganized my priorities, reflected deeply on what’s important in life, and reframe how I look at certain things. For example, relationships are important to me, so I decide to imagine myself on a balcony, looking down on myself and my loved ones, I ask myself, “Is what I’m upset about really THAT bad? Is letting it go going to affect me negatively?” My answer was “No, what we are unhappy about is petty. My problem is not being assertive and wanting to play the victim.” Once I figured that out, my perspective on life changed. My actions can affect my relationships with others. If I want to improve my relationships, I need to change. I need to set more boundaries, and I need to speak up if I don’t like something.
That’s what I have done to manage my emotions in relation to the current world situation.
What about you? What action will you take? Let us know in the comments!
We also offer corporate mental health programs for companies interested in boosting employees’ morale.
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