In Handy 10:19 04 Jan 2023

Finding the good in dark times: how to support yourself during blackouts

Ukrainians have lived in constant blackouts for almost the entire autumn and half of the winter. The russians continue to attack Ukraine's energy infrastructure and will not stop until we win. How to manage your emotional state when the lights are turned off again? How to adapt to the "dark times"? Let's analyze together in our text!

What is the problem?

During the two months of russia's energy terror, people adapted to power outages: they stocked up on candles, flashlights, power banks, and generators and learned to plan everything in a new way. But still, when the light disappears, many feel despair, irritation, anger, and even aggression.

What is the solution?

Why does this happen? When we have heat, water, communication, and working electrical appliances at home, we feel more confident and have a sense of control over our lives. A house where everything is fine protects us from the horrors of war like a small fortress. It is not surprising that everyone would like to feel like the real lord of this fortress, turning on the light at their own will, cooking food, not for three days when the electric stoves are working, but something fresh every time, not worrying about the contents of the refrigerator, and taking a shower and bath. 

без світла

Constant blackouts are not only a source of household problems. Losing control over your life triggers a whirlwind of negative thoughts that are very difficult to deal with. Difficult, but possible.

Psychologists advise:

  • Hang out with people who are in the same conditions as you: colleagues, relatives, and neighbors. This will help to create a feeling of "normality" of what is happening to all of us now. We are not victims; this is just the reality now.
  • Work out joint action algorithms, and share life hacks for overcoming difficulties with each other.
  • Look at time constraints with humor. Humor helped people survive seemingly hopeless situations.
  • Change negative thinking to positive, and try to find positives in power outages. For example, the ability to read more, communicate with loved ones, and finally watch long-downloaded movies.

A family psychologist and art therapist, Yana Polishchuk, also told Rubryka how you could help your psyche cope with the "era of blackouts." 

How does it work?

відключення електроенергії

Despite everything, the majority is gradually adapting to new conditions. But what to do if the constant outages are more and more depressing? Let's try to figure out how to effectively support yourself:

  1. Always take care of physicality because the body primarily provides resourcefulness and the ability to cope with stress. Therefore, adequate sleep, physical activity, and nutrition should always be first.
  2. Have a flexible plan for different occasions. In such non-standard life circumstances, it is essential to act quickly and be able to adjust. A backup plan automatically reduces anxiety and facilitates more effective resolution of personal inquiries and cases.
  3. Take care of the lighting. During sleep disturbances, our bodies produce cortisol, which contributes to developing depressive states. Therefore, sufficient room lighting during the dark period of the day can stabilize biological rhythms.
  4. Take care of your emotional state. Besides accumulating our life adaptability, the new reality can still drive us into old fears and phobias—for example, fear of the dark. To deal with it on your own, place the light sources, so they do not create frightening illusory images. Make it a habit before going to sleep to switch to the positive aspects of your life, restoring them in your memory. If you live alone, place photos of essential people in a lighted place. Try to understand what is the generative factor of fear. Write down all the possible reasons on a sheet, then look at them. They may not be so well-founded, and there is nothing to be afraid of. If this does not help, you need to try to find the root cause and start fighting it. And the best way to work with fear is to interact with it but in a reduced and not too traumatic form.
  5. Take care of "blackout leisure." Stock up on things you can fill the time without electricity at home. It can be board games, books, downloaded movies, handmade, home disco, or karaoke. The main thing is that your mind does not panic because of not understanding how to fill the time.
  6. Accept your condition. Do not make drastic decisions; give yourself time for emotions and dwell on unpleasant feelings. Occupy yourself with what you can at a particular moment. Feel free to ask for help.
  7. Mindfulness techniques and spiritual practices. They teach us to be fully present in the "here and now" moment, help us notice habitual states of consciousness, and control attention and behavior. It's all about the same adaptability to changed conditions. Such practices open the flow of inner strength and support. Even a small visualization of the light within yourself will make it possible to live through these dark times. 

"After any darkness, the sun rises, so in no case do not let it go out inside you!" psychologist Yana Polishchuk urges.

Will it work?


Psychologist Svitlana Melashchenko shared on Facebook her vision of how to overcome problems with electricity. In her opinion, you don't need to side with the dark side being in the dark.

It turns out that you can find advantages in blackouts:

  • The absence of electricity teaches time planning. 
  • It teaches both us and our environment to find compromises. When we develop our thinking, the capabilities of our brain grow, and the number of neural connections increases.
  • This is an opportunity to make a romantic dinner by candlelight, tell stories, sing songs, and play the guitar.
  • An opportunity to have quality rest because the neurohormone melatonin is produced in the dark.
  • An excuse to chat with children, and loved ones, play charades or play any other game together.
  • An excuse to go outside, drink coffee, or take a walk; now you can see the stars in the evening!
  • An opportunity to pay attention to your body: shake your abs, do physical exercises.
  • Time for meditation and fantasies. You can think of it as traveling back when there was no electricity.

Even more helpful solutions!

Try not to focus on the fact that you don't have electricity right now. Pay attention not to the neighboring house, where the light "does not turn off," but to your thoughts. It is unnecessary to succumb to "conspiracy theories" and blame someone for the situation that has developed. Our energy and utility workers work around the clock to bring the benefits of civilization back to our homes. No one but russia is to blame for what is happening.

Don't wind yourself up, and don't construct negative scenarios. If you did not finish something in time, you can postpone the matter, rest or cancel it, and dream about what you will do after the victory. Value yourself and your health. Everything passes. The war will end. Let's believe that it will happen as soon as possible.

This article was created by the Rubryka online publication within the Ukraine Rapid Response Fund program, implemented by IREX with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online publication and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.


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