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Supporting staff affected by events in Ukraine

As the situation in Ukraine continues, this is going to be an extremely difficult time for employees who are personally affected by the events reported. Many may be concerned about the implications from a wider perspective too. What can employers do?

Employees with family in Ukraine and/or Russia

Employees with family and friends in Ukraine and/or Russia who are concerned for their welfare are likely to want to keep in regular contact with their loved ones. Employees may wish to make/accept personal phone calls during working time so employers could allow employees to move their lunch break, to slightly adjust their working hours or to have more frequent breaks, so that they can more easily keep in contact with friends and family. Employers should try to accommodate these types of requests wherever possible and be alert to the fact that employees may be in distress.

Employees in Russia and/or Ukraine

Organisations may have employees working for them who are permanently located in Russia or Ukraine. The employer’s duty of care extends to these employees so regular communication should be maintained and discussions held as a matter of urgency around how the employee is affected and what support can be provided.

Employee relations

Employees may have opposing views on what’s happening, so employers should instill their policy on bullying and harassment. If there is a risk of arguments between employees because of nationalities or different viewpoints, employees can be advised to use the organisations' channels to talk about the events and how they are affected.

Organisations who wish to offer support to those in Russia/Ukraine, for example, by arranging collections of clothing and other essential items, should ensure that this is done in an inclusive way that does not discriminate on the ground of nationality.

What can employees do to support themselves?

Limit exposure and replace scrolling with time outdoors

Limiting of exposure to the news and social media will reduce the impact of a sense of panic, doom or even compassion towards others. When we feel so stuck in that fight, flight or freeze response, we can become anxious or depressed.

Tap Into Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness activities, including meditation, or prayer are powerful tools to help stay grounded in the present. They can help take the focus from expecting the worst and get our minds to a place of peace. The practice of taking a slow deep breath and bringing ourself back to the present when emotions intensify can be a huge help as we attempt to process conflict taking place overseas.

Spend Time with Loved Ones and Practice Gratitude

Although the possibility of conflict is disturbing, we should express gratitude for the basic things that we often take for granted. Spend time with loved ones. Enjoy their company, whether by phone or in person. Talk with them about how you are processing what is going on in Ukraine and give them the space to share their thoughts. By allowing someone else to feel heard and validated, it can help us feel less alone in our feelings.

Reach Out to People Who Are Directly Affected

Showing compassion to people who are impacted by the situation in Ukraine takes the focus off of ourself and puts it onto others.

Offer moral support to Ukrainian friends who may be worried about their family members. Other friends who have lived through similar invasions may be dealing with PTSD. Members of the military and their family members may be dealing with fears of deployment. Offering a listening ear can make a world of difference to someone who is struggling.

Employees can also offer financial support through reputable organizations that help people in Ukraine. Research shows that helping other people provides a sense of well-being.

Step Away from Catastrophic Thinking

Yes, the possibility of nuclear war does exist but authorities are working hard to manage this threat. Catastrophizing and focusing on “what ifs” can cause negativity spirals and heightened anxiety. There’s no real benefit to obsessive worry, especially when the conflict is out of our control.

Try to trust that the people we’ve elected to run our country are making the best decisions for our national security, and the nations of Europe are working together to find a way to minimize the necessity of violent force.

Talk to a Mental Health Professional

The difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic have stretched our minds and bodies. Processing another potential crisis may feel daunting and overwhelming. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with global disasters because they impact everyone differently. If you or someone you love is feeling debilitated by the events unfolding in Ukraine, consider talking to a licensed mental health professional.

If you have an EAP or psychotherapy offering, this is a great time to remind staff to seek support.

What are Moonstir doing to support?

Aside from offering ongoing psychotherapy, we are delivering a talk on Mood and Food on 22nd March where funds can be donated in aid of the Ukraine appeal. See our events page for more information.

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