- Have you also found yourself closely monitoring the Russian invasion of Ukraine in recent days?
- Thinking often of the devastation, loss, and uncertainty the Ukrainian people must be experiencing?
- Constantly checking your social media feeds or watching your favorite news station looking for signs of hope?
Although being informed is good, doom-scrolling and plugging in too much can harm your mental health.
How is Doom-scrolling Harmful?
When feelings of uncertainty arise, absorbing as much information as possible can immediately relieve anxiety. Although there is immediate relief, it is not healthy. When you cope this way, you are trying to control a situation that is out of your control, obsessing, and likely creating more anxiety and fear.
Additionally, many people are already experiencing over two years of chronic stress and anxiety due to the pandemic, civil unrest, financial stress, and more. Add to this the devastation in Ukraine, and it’s overwhelming.
Enduring so many crises at once is staggering and reminds us of our powerlessness. Watching this unfold can be especially traumatizing to people who have in the past sought refuge by fleeing other countries in conflict, have experienced war, or have a trauma or anxiety disorder.
What can you do? Try these four steps to refocus your thoughts and regain better mental health.
Instead of doom-scrolling, an excellent place to start is by taking action and donating to a well-vetted non-profit organization that is directly supporting Ukrainian people, refugees, or forces. Some of these organizations help people facing humanitarian crises by providing food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. Providing your time, skill, or resources (including financial) can help others and offer mental health benefits for you.
Redirect Your Thinking
It is crucial not to focus on worst-case scenarios and the various “what-ifs?” Instead, take moments out of your day and practice mindfulness. You can do so by simply focusing on your senses. Can you see the leaves blowing through the trees? What do you smell? Can you feel the warm sun on your face? Quiet the internal talk while focusing on what you hear externally; maybe this is the rain as it drops on the window.
Be Purposeful About Your Behavior
Unplug throughout the day. Be conscious of the amount of information you consume, and take time to focus on the basics: eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. These basics are the foundation for well-being. Discuss, write, journal, or even blog your thoughts to get them outside of yourself. Doing so allows you to operate from a clearer perspective.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Finally, remember it is ok to feel the way you do; however that may be. Mad. Sad. Afraid. And yes, even glad. And it is also ok to go about your daily life. Doing so doesn’t mean you do not care; it simply means you are doing your best to live healthily and providing yourself a bit of certainty in very uncertain times.
Speaking of certainty, I have a graduation party to plan for my youngest son. I am grateful these are the plans I am making for him instead of sending him to war. I know it’s ok for me to be thankful for my life while also being compassionate for the Ukrainian people.
PS. If you find yourself still struggling with your thoughts or doom-scrolling despite these tips, it’s ok to ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or a mental health counselor. We offer licensed professional counseling in Oregon and Idaho, or we can point you in the right direction.