In recent years, the world has seen its fair share of challenges, from political unrest to a global pandemic and now, the unsettling reality of war in various regions. If you’ve been feeling an increased sense of anxiety and distress in response to these events, you’re not alone. War anxiety, a common reaction to images and news of conflict can impact people in various ways, given the already high levels of collective stress we’ve experienced.
What is War Anxiety?
War anxiety, sometimes known as nuclear anxiety, is a natural response to disturbing images and news of conflict. The recent events in Ukraine and other regions have been particularly impactful, perhaps due to the heightened levels of stress, fatigue, and the loss of a sense of control stemming from the preceding challenges.
The Emotional Toll
The emotional toll of war anxiety can manifest in different ways, affecting both the mind and body. Some may experience physical symptoms like a racing heart, stomach butterflies, nausea, or dizziness. Others may encounter full-blown panic attacks, uncontrollable worries, restlessness, or even numbness. It’s essential to remember that a degree of anxiety in response to life stressors is normal and adaptive.
Strategies for Coping with War Anxiety:
1. Limit Media Exposure:
– Breaking the habit of constantly checking the news can be the most effective change in combatting war anxiety. Try to limit exposure, including social media, to less than 30 minutes daily.
2. Connect with Others:
– Channel your anxiety into meaningful connections. Reach out to friends or acquaintances who may be directly affected by the conflict, offering support and solidarity. Volunteering or donating to organisations can also make a positive impact.
3. Cultivate Compassion:
– War anxiety can trigger anger, often linked to a sense of loss of control. Practicing compassion, understanding different perspectives, actively listening, and paying attention to acts of kindness can support their emotions and experiences.
4. Change Your Routine:
– Make conscious changes to your daily routine to reduce anxiety. Spend time in nature, engage in high-intensity physical activities, re-visit an old hobby or explore other relaxation methods to find what works best for you.
– Ensure the information you’re consuming is accurate and not sensationalised. Fact-check sources, context, and headlines to prevent unnecessary anxiety.
– Prioritise self-care through relaxation exercises, deep breathing, and mindfulness. These practices can help manage anxiety symptoms and bring a sense of control and peace.
7. Focus on Positives:
– Embrace the power of positive thinking. Acknowledge the good things in life, and consider engaging in acts of giving back and volunteer work to boost your well-being.
8. Accept Uncertainty:
– Understand that there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the world. Accepting that you can’t control everything can alleviate some of the anxiety.
Experiencing anxiety about war is normal, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out for support from Connect Psych Services if your anxiety becomes overwhelming. Remember that you have the capacity to navigate these challenging times and protect your mental well-being.