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5 ways to cope with the stressful news cycle

Illustration by LA Johnson
Illustration by LA Johnson/NPR

Russia invaded Ukraine this week, and the world seems to have shifted.

Even after weeks of bracing for an attack amid speculation, global tensions and diplomatic attempts to stave off invasion — the reality of conflict is always a shock to the system.

There are still so many more questions than answers.

Perhaps among the first batch on your mind: How did we get here? What does this all mean? Or maybe, What does this mean for my life? What can I do about it?

We've been asking ourselves the same things. What we have to offer you is the simple truth that sometimes when you don't have all the answers, it's OK to look for what you can control and seek comfort where you can.

A few ways you can support people in Ukraine include making donations to or spreading the word on this non-exhaustive list of organizations: UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, Voices of Children, Sunflower of Peace and International Committee of the Red Cross. (Read more on ways you can help.)

While we wait for more information, don't forget to care for yourself in other ways:

Breathe. If you're feeling your body contracting or overheating, step away from whatever you're doing and take a deep breath. Here's a five-finger breathing exercise that can bring you back to the moment. Or if you want to take it a step further, try these meditation and mindfulness exercises for beginners.

Get moving. Do something that feels good for your body and helps you get out of your head. We've got lots of tools to help: whether that's deep cleaning or comfort decorating to create a cozier space, tips on learning a new skill or jump starting your exercise routine.

Nourish yourself. The kitchen is a safe space for a lot of us. Maybe this is the weekend that you finally re-create Grandpa's famous lasagna, or learn how to make a prettier pie, or maybe just lose yourself in some kitchen organization. Don't have every ingredient for that lovely Deb Perelman dessert? Don't stress — we've got you covered on how to make food substitutions, simple.

Stay connected. When the news is scary, it's easy to get lost in our own heads. Reach out to loved ones instead. That could look like sitting down to write an actual letter to a relative, spending time with neighbors, playing (or creating!) games with family, or even taking the time to write down those generational stories. If your little ones are struggling to go to bed at the end of the day, try talking to them about the heavy news head-on.

Or sign off. Remember that it's OK not to be plugged into the news. By turning off your alerts or checking the headlines once or twice a day, you may be able to feel more grounded and prioritize yourself and loved ones.

Life Kit is uniquely positioned in the NPR newsroom. As a service journalism team, it's our mission not only to inform but to be helpful. We deal not only in cold hard facts but also in caring and in kindness.

In this turbulent time, we invite you to do the same. It's important for all of us to stay informed citizens of the world, and also to remember: take it easy on yourself, and on each other.


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We'd love to hear from you. If you have a good life hack, leave us a voicemail at
202-216-9823 or email us at LifeKit@npr.org. Your tip could appear in an upcoming episode.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Andee Tagle (she/her) is an associate producer and now-and-then host for NPR's Life Kit podcast.