Fear And Helplessness In The Face Of War
For people who are indirectly affected
Reading time: approx. 3 minutes
My neighbor came up to me this morning and told me about her feeling of fear and helplessness. At times she even had thoughts of fleeing or going abroad. The war was so real and close to her.
I calmly stood by her, held her hands, and just listened to her. I reassured her that she was not alone in this and that I was there with her, wholeheartedly. Together we did a breathing exercise and I asked her where she could feel herself in her body at the moment. She told me that she could feel her feet very well. We focused on her feet for the moment, after that she said, she felt a little better. I offered to always have an open door for her during this difficult time because none of us have to deal with the worries and fears that come up in this crisis situation alone.
We are currently encountering a sad truth that often seems surreal. The situation is confusing and the news are full of war images and videos. With the flood of information from the news, some feel very activated or fearful. Many of us feel the urge to want to do something to improve the situation and gain a sense of control.
With this article, we want to give you practical first steps with which you can regulate your nervous system in this exceptional situation and improve your well-being.
1. Anchor yourself in the here and now
If you feel very anxious, maybe even feel like you are standing beside yourself, we recommend that you first anchor yourself in the here and now with all your senses. Look to the right, to the left, and upwards. What do you see in your immediate surroundings? What can you hear? The smell is also a good anchor for the here and now. For example, you can smell the coffee grounds or the potting soil of your houseplant. Then allow yourself to take a few deep breaths and direct your concentration to your body sensations. Notice the flow of your breath. Feel your feet, which are firmly planted on the floor. With each exhalation, allow yourself to release a bit of your uneasiness to the outside and become more and more aware of the support of the ground under your feet.
2. Consciously ask yourself the question, what do you need now?
In the next step, think about what you need for yourself to be able to go about your everyday life now. It can help, for example, to take conscious media breaks. This way you can keep your focus on your everyday life and try to allow yourself not to remain in constant fear, sadness, despair, or anger.
Make sure you stick to basic routines, such as regular sleep and mealtimes, exercise, and relaxation routines, if you have any. Especially in times when things get chaotic around us, it's important to become internally calm and anchor yourself in a piece of normalcy. Some people feel downright responsible during crises to feel bad all the time. Note that such a sense of responsibility is not helpful. In some moments, the reality of crises gets through to us, and in other moments, other emotions come to the fore. This is also a good thing. It helps you stay centered. For example, if you opt for step No. 3 and want to take action yourself, you can only do so effectively if you take good care of yourself and stay centered.
3. If you want to, you can become active yourself, taking it one step at a time
It can help us a lot to redirect pent-up feelings of helplessness, fear, or anger into action in a structured way. We often find it difficult to keep track of meaningful steps - especially when we are emotional about it ourselves. It's a little easier if you start with what we call the one-meter world. First, see if there is anything in your immediate environment that you can contribute. Be aware that just listening to someone can be a huge support. Once you have exhausted the possibilities in your immediate environment, you can find out about other ways to help. You don't have to start from scratch, because there are experts who bundle the relevant information in a meaningful way. One example is this website, which summarizes various ways to help. Don't get in over your head. Find a way to help and pursue it without leaning out of your center before taking on additional projects.
4. Get in touch with your immediate environment:
It is important that you don’t remain alone with your anxiety and allow yourself to receive support. Maybe you have close people with whom you can talk about the situation. You are also welcome to come to our chat. At Soulchat we offer you a safe space where you are not alone with your fears and worries. We listen to you and help you to process the situation. We are happy to help you regulate your nervous system, bring some peace to your thoughts and feelings, and explore resources for you that can help you deal with the current situation.
Your Soulchat Team