Ukraine invasion: The best way to feel better is to help. Here's how 5 months ago

Ukraine invasion: The best way to feel better is to help. Here's how

Don't doomscroll, get up and do something - you'll feel better

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has horrified the world and every day a new atrocity goes viral for all the wrong reasons.

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It's hard not to feel heartbroken for the lives being torn apart, and anxious for the future - just days into the conflict, Putin talked nukes.

Closer to home, watching a war play out across social media from the couch, prompts different feelings. The crisis has saturated the media landscape, and you wouldn't be human if you didn't feel slightly overwhelmed by the horror of it all. A bit helpless, and probably guilty for having a personal reaction at all.

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Mental health charity, Mind, has heard from a number of people, feeling like this. They're distressed by what they're seeing and hearing and need to offload. Young people particularly may fear nuclear war for the first time in their lives.

Turn concern into action

The best course of action, according to psychotherapist Lorraine Lowe, is to turn concern into action.

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"Rather than focusing on our feelings of powerlessness, focus on small things we can do. Raising money for Ukraine, getting clothing to refugees, and so on," she tells JOE.

Lowe, who has 35 years of experience, explains that having a strong reaction to the Ukraine crisis is normal.

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"As human beings, we've got threat-focused brains, and this is a really terrifying situation. For people in Ukraine, for family members all across the world and, even, for us as citizens.

"It's understandable that we feel like this. People are going to worry and catastrophise. Not blaming ourselves for feeling anxious is key. Focusing on what we can do and not what we can't do in the present moment."

Here's how you can help

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While it is easy to feel helpless, there's a myriad of ways you can make a difference and it doesn't have to be as drastic as packing a backpack and joining the frontlines. On Tuesday, there were reports of men with no military experience turning up at London's Ukrainian Embassy ready to take up arms.

You can make a donation of money or requested goods, attend a fundraiser, join a protest, offer a room in your home to a refugee, and even write to your MP.

Donate to a charity

The big NGOs taking donations for their emergency crisis appeals include:

British Red Cross

Project Hope

Unicef

International Rescue Committee

In London, the UK’s Ukrainian Embassy has set up its own donation service, With Ukraine.

Polish Humanitarian Action is supplying hygiene products, food, and blankets to those in need on the Ukrainian/Polish border and on the ground in Kyiv, Come Back Alive is urging people to donate to help support democracy, while non-profit Nova Ukraine is helping to provide humanitarian aid.

Attend a fundraiser or donate toiletries and essentials

Former HuffPostUK journalist Chris York is currently in Warsaw collecting as many phone power banks and gas heaters as he can. He has set up a GoFundMe page, at on Wednesday morning more than £6,200 had been donated.

There are fundraising events popping up all across the UK and Europe, from bars and fitness classes to tattoo flash days - it's never been easier to get involved. Town halls, pubs, and countless organisations are also taking donations, putting out lists of essential items required.

Contact your MP

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson relaxed visa requirements to allow immediate family members to join Ukrainians settled in the UK, but campaign groups are still encouraging people to get in touch with their local MP to push for more support and further sanctions against Russia.

Find your MPs contact details here. The Ukrainian Institute has drafted a template email here.

Protest

If you wanna make your voice heard in person, join a protest. Follow the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign and Euromaidan London on Facebook for details of upcoming protests to do with Ukraine.

The Stand With Ukraine group hosted a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday night. That followed three earlier days of protesting in the capital from Friday.

London’s Ukrainian Institute has ready-made protest posters and leaflets you can print here.

Sign a petition

Or you can add your name to a petition. There's a parliamentary one on pledging any necessary military support to defend Ukraine, The Independent’s petition called Refugees Welcome, and another challenging the UK government to help Ukrainian refugees. There's also an open letter here from AVAAZ called Stop This War.

Open your home to a refugee

Shelter4ua.com is taking sign-ups from people around the world who have a spare room to host refugees and other hosting charities are expected to appeal to volunteers as the crisis continues. Some 500,000 Ukrainian refugees are said to have already fled the country since the invasion started almost a week ago.

Airbnb has pledged to offer free housing to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

How to cope on a personal level - social media is our frenemy

Our socials are a good way to stay connected with friends and family, especially during tough times, but right now they're also making the war feel inescapable.

'Doomscrolling' is a word that keeps cropping up. It refers to spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to negative news.

When we’re concerned about news, it can be tempting to go straight to social media to see what everyone else is saying.

But as Mind pointed out: "People may be sharing news stories that you want to avoid, or posting feelings or opinions about the situation that leave you feeling more worried. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media."

"You might decide to view particular groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or newsfeeds. Try to regularly ask yourself – 'is this helping me, or am I doom scrolling?'"

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