Can’t stop thinking of current world affairs?

Mar 03, 2022

Whilst the invasion of Ukraine is upsetting and frightening to most people, with worries often preying on minds, some people can become consumed with overwhelming thoughts.

If you are someone who finds yourself going ‘down a rabbit hole’ of repetitive or catastrophic thoughts; or very regularly checking the news or social media channels, take a moment to step away and reflect on how this might be impacting you. People who have a generalised anxiety disorder are prone to constant worry but sometimes when faced with a difficult, out of control situation such as the current invasion, anxiety may present as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Although extremely distressing, OCD has a function.

Rumination and trying to plan for every eventuality provide an illusion of being in control whilst the checking behaviours that follow are aimed to self-reassure. These patterns might help some in the short term but do not offer long term help and instead raise further anxiety.

If you are caught up in such a distressing pattern of fear and worry, here are some things you can do.

1. Have a ‘detox’ from the news. This means having a break from the news completely stopping ‘doom-scrolling,’ blocking social media channels and pop-ups on your phone.

2. Accept that worry comes with the situation but try and limit the time you do so by allocating short periods of ‘worry time’. Be productive during these times and keep a worry journal to write down negative thoughts together with any counter arguments you can generate to calm these. If you find yourself worrying at other times of the day, be firm and make sure they wait until your next period of worry time.

3. Write a list of things you can control. This includes controlling your negative thoughts and generating positive ones.

4. Do things that are within your control and that make you feel you have impact, for example, donating to humanitarian appeals, offering aid, going for a walk, talking to a friend.

5. Recognise that whatever is happening in the world will take time to be resolved and practice managing your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.

6. Look beyond now to the future. Although it may seem dark now, there will, with the rest of the world intent on resolution, be a light at the end of the tunnel.