Managing Anxiety Triggered by News from Ukraine

Music and meditation among the ways to cope.

Sitting on yoga mats with their eyes closed as meditation music fills the air, Stephanie Dowd’s yoga and meditation students seek a sense of calm.  For the past two weeks, the Arlington instructor offered a special class for those  who are seeking solace in the midst of an abundance of disturbing news about the crisis in Ukraine 

“My students have come to class talking about the sadness and stress they’re feeling,” she said. “They’re looking for ways to decompress from the upsetting headlines.”

The onslaught of disturbing images and news headlines about the crisis in Ukraine  can take a toll on one’s mental health. While feelings of stress over negative events is normal, there is a point in which these feelings can become unmanageable.

“It’s normal to feel some level of anxiety over negative national and international events,” said Bethesda psychologist Michele Windsor . “The key is having  enough self awareness to recognize those when feelings are interfering with your ability to carry out daily tasks.”

“Deep breathing, meditation or just spending five minutes sitting quietly and without access to news, smartphones and social media can help cultivate that self awareness,” Windsor  said.


“The key is having enough self awareness to recognize when those feelings are interfering with your ability to carry out daily tasks.“

— Michele Windsor


When  members of her prayer group began to express feelings of profound sadness over the crisis, Yves Jaffe said they discussed some of the ways in which they can find comfort in their faith. “I play the flute and I’ve started playing at the beginning and end of our gatherings. The sounds are peaceful and give us a sense of calm. There’s another woman in our group who’s a pianist and she plays, “Let there be Peace on Earth” while we sing it.

In fact, spending time with friends and setting limits on news consumption can reduce anxiety, says Windsor . “Because we’re all attached to our smartphones, get news alerts and spend time on social media, we can lose track of the amount of negative news we’re getting,” she said. “Make a conscious effort to unplug.  Set aside a certain amount of time each day to stay off the internet and social media. There are very few reasons why most of us can’t choose to stay away from these things for at least three hours each day. It can do wonders for our mental health.”

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