Managing feelings when the unthinkable happens

It is February.  Christmas, and our memories of it (good or bad) are gone – and you have somehow managed to get through a cold, dark and rainy January.  I imagine your anxiety and stress levels may have gone through the roof, what with the increase in food prices and soaring energy bills and being impacted by the rail and NHS strikes.

Now, we are being reminded of the first anniversary of the Ukrainian-Russian War and the everyday horrors of that.  We are told daily how we are contributing to the destruction of our planet.

You want to turn off the TV, but you cannot concentrate, your mind is too busy trying to understand what is happening out in the world.

Perhaps you are feeling weary or overwhelmed by it all?  Perhaps you just want to stick your head in the sand and pretend that none of this is happening?

So, you try to distract yourself, in an attempt to occupy your mind which will erase the thoughts and images that are so upsetting.

But inevitably it does not work

That’s the problem with feelings, there is no on/off switch.  You can’t only have the good stuff and turn the bad stuff off.

How can you make sense of the unthinkable?

Well, you can’t.  It’s impossible.  It makes no sense – but what you can do is help yourself through the shock and horror you feel.  Remember, it is normal to have these feelings.


For some, writing at a time like this is an effective way to work through your thoughts and feelings, because it gets them out and on paper and you don’t have to hang on to them in your head.  Write about your feelings of sadness and grief and allow yourself to cry.  Write about your feelings of horror and fear.  Write about feelings of compassion and empathy for the victims.

And – importantly, write about your anger, because at times like this, anger is a normal and natural response.  Rant and rage and let it out.

Writing is a great way to express your anger safely.  And remember, that an aspect of anger is passion – so you may feel compelled to do something to help.  Use your anger for good – be a part of something that makes a positive change.

2. Talk

Now is a time to come together with others to talk, and to give and accept support.  At a time when the world seems a scary place, getting together with people you know and care about you can be very grounding.

3. Move

For some people exercise is really helpful.  This can be working out at the gym, going for a swim, or taking the dog out for a walk.  Connecting with nature has been proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental well-being.

4. Touch

Touch is a powerful thing – so hug someone.  A person, a pet, it doesn’t matter, it’s all beneficial.

5. Look for the helpers

Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news:

“My mother would say to me: ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’  To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”  (from

Don’t just hope that life will improve – take control and make it happen today

If you are needing some help in making those changes to improve your life, please contact me.  Don’t struggle alone.


Scroll to Top