War brings physical danger as well as considerable emotional distress. This is so common that experts often refer to this as nuclear anxiety, headline stress disorder, or war anxiety. First, you are constantly worrying about what might happen to you and your loved ones if the war might end or escalate.
Even if you don’t live in a war zone, you might worry about the war spreading to where you live. War stirs up intense emotions like grief, sadness, anger, paranoia, and anxiety. Everyone responds differently to these emotions. While these emotions may be devastating for some, others may have it easier to navigate them.
Regardless of your response, here are 4 tips to help you manage the emotional stress:
Talk about it
War is a shared experience. This means that you and everyone around you are going through the same experience. Talking to others helps you realize that you are not alone; your feelings might seem unique but you will find that others are experiencing the same or similar emotions and coping as best as they can. You can talk to your friends and family or a respected individual like a community elder or your spiritual leader. Support groups are also available, both online and offline, you can check them out and join any that fits your needs. Don’t isolate yourself and worry alone, this will affect your ability to cope.
Prioritize your health
In the continuous bout of worrying, it can be easy to forget that you need to take care of yourself. Don’t make this mistake; make your health a priority. Dealing with ill health and war anxiety is no fun. Make sure to eat as best you can, drink enough water, and get some rest. Try to exercise as much as you can to keep your body in shape.
Limit media exposure
Keeping up with news on the television, newspaper, and social media is how you stay updated about necessary information. But consuming too much content about the war can impact your ability to cope with the accompanying emotional stress. Constantly reading and watching every available piece of information about the war can fuel your anxiety and keep you in a loop of worry.
Keep information on a need-to-know basis. Avoid blogs and new sites that report sensationalist news. Set up filters on your social media so that news, stories, and images about the war do not creep into your feed. Warn people around you to not send you broadcasts, news, and other information unless very important.
Do the little you can
It’s normal to feel helpless and lost but focus on doing the little you can. You can donate blood, food, medicine, and/or money to people who have been affected by the war. Preparing care packages for people in the military is a great way to show support. You can also join protests opposing the war, sign petitions, and share helpful information about help and resources. Even in your community, you can help to keep people motivated, distract kids with events and stories, and other activities.
War impacts everybody, even people not directly experiencing it. Staying engaged and focused on the positives is the best way to keep emotional stress at bay during war and other crisis situations. Connect with people around you, don’t consume news excessively, and seek out help if you feel like your distress about the war is out of your control.
Remember, that you are going through a shared experience, so other people know exactly how you feel; don’t isolate yourself.