How to deal with war anxiety
The past few years have been extremely challenging. Many people feel panic over major issues such as political and social turmoil, racial and justice conflicts and, of course, the pandemic. So, if you're feeling anxious about war today, then you certainly aren't alone.
War anxiety arises any time there's conflict in the world. But it just so happens the current war is happening at a point where many people have reached their capacity for dealing with stress. So, it's understandable to feel like things are too difficult to manage.
Whether it's the constant news cycle or social media, it can be hard to find a break from the intensity. The key point to remember is your feelings are valid, be that the fears arising from the Ukraine conflict, the threat of nuclear war or even food scarcity.
Luckily, there are many coping mechanisms out there that can help deal with anxiety. If you're feeling overwhelmed with the worry of war, here are six things to consider that might help:
1. Identify your main sources of anxiety
Social media can also be a great way to connect with others who are feeling the same way as us. We can share our worries and concerns with others, and receive support and advice from people who understand what we are going through.
On the one hand, social media can provide us with a constant stream of updates on the latest news and current events. This can be both good and bad, as it can help us to stay informed but also add to our anxiety and stress if we are constantly seeing negative news stories.
It can be helpful to limit your exposure to news and social media if you find that it is adding to your anxiety. This doesn't mean that you should completely avoid the news, but try to limit yourself to checking for updates a few times a day, rather than constantly throughout the day.
It can also be helpful to take breaks from social media. If you find that scrolling through your feed is making you feel anxious, try spending time away from devices for a few hours or even a few days. This will give you time to focus on other things and hopefully help to reduce your anxiety.
If you find that you are regularly checking the news for updates or receiving lots of news notifications, you may find it helpful to include a variety of different news sources as this can help to give you a more well-rounded view of the situation.
Many people find that their smartphone alerts can be overwhelming. While they may provide invaluable up-to-date information, the constant barrage of news updates can be detrimental to our mental health. Maybe it's time to turn off or delete news sites and apps that you feel are affecting your emotional health.
Also, be mindful of how clever journalists are at crafting news headlines that are designed to be clickbait. Stories about the war in Ukraine, a potential Russian invasion or even a world war are all designed to make you click through. Consider who's publishing the story and visit only trusted news sources.
Keep in mind how much news you consume. Limiting how much information you're exposed to might help, especially if you have anxiety over war-related news.
Research shows that exposure to bad news has a detrimental effect on mental health. A study on media consumption during the global pandemic notes a distinct threshold of topic-specific media exposure that should be considered to avoid psychological strain. They go so far as to state that excessive media exposure may be linked to anxiety and depression, suggesting that mental health practitioners should also be considering it.
2. Make time for relaxation and self-care
This is important for managing any kind of stress, but it's especially crucial if you're dealing with anxiety about war. Learn techniques that will help calm your mind, bringing it back to the present, allowing your stress to subdue.
These exercises help you focus on the present moment and connect with your physical surroundings. To do a grounding exercise, find a quiet place to sit or stand and concentrate on your breath. As you inhale and exhale, focus on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body. You can also try focusing on a specific object in the room, such as a plant or piece of furniture, and really observing it intently.
Progressive muscle relaxation
This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body to help you feel more relaxed overall. To do progressive muscle relaxation, start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Then, slowly tense and hold each muscle group for five to 10 seconds before releasing the tension. Continue with all of the major muscle groups in your body until you feel more relaxed.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings in the present moment without judgment. To practice mindfulness, find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Then, simply focus on your breath and notice any thoughts or emotions that arise without trying to change or resist them. Let them come and go as they please and just focus on your breath.
Visualisation involves using your imagination to create a calming and soothing environment in your mind. To do a visualisation exercise, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place, such as a beach or forest. Picture the details of the scene clearly in your mind and focus on the positive emotions you feel in that place. Spend a few minutes in your peaceful environment and then open your eyes.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you to better understand and cope with them. To journal, simply find a quiet place to sit or lie down and write about whatever is on your mind. You can write about your fears, worries, anxieties, or anything else that is bothering you. Just let your thoughts flow onto the page and don’t worry about editing or censoring yourself.
Getting out in the open and getting some fresh air can do wonders for your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Even just a short walk can help improve your mood and relieve stress.
3. Talk to someone
If you're feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, talking to someone can be a helpful way to cope. Talking to friends or family members about your anxiety can help you to feel more supported and may give you some relief.
4. Use the power of positive thinking
It may sound cliché, but positive thinking can actually help to manage anxiety. When you focus on negative thoughts, it can fuel your anxiety and make it worse. Instead, try to focus on positive thoughts and things that make you happy. This can help to counter the effect of anxiety and may help you to feel better.
One way to focus on positive thoughts is to practice gratitude. This involves taking the time to appreciate the good things in your life, no matter how small. You can do this by keeping a journal and writing down things you're grateful for each day.
5. Accept uncertainty is part of life
One of the main things that can contribute to anxiety is a fear of the unknown. If you're constantly worrying about what could happen, it can be helpful to remind yourself that uncertainty is a part of life. The world is in a state of flux, so it's understandable that you're experiencing war anxiety.
Then again, we don't know what will happen in the future, so it's essential to live in the now and enjoy life as much as possible.
6. Seek professional help
If your anxiety is severe and interfering with your daily life, it's important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand and manage your anxiety. They can also provide you with tools and resources that can help you to cope. Hypnotherapy is a type of therapy that can be particularly helpful for anxiety.
How can hypnotherapy help?
Most of us are familiar with the fight, flight or freeze response. It’s what happens when we’re in survival mode. And because it’s a response to life-threatening situations it’s most useful when it’s instinctive. Anxiety is the flight response and when there’s a genuine threat, we’re delighted to have it working for us. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.
When we’ve been going through a tough time, or when we’ve experienced a trauma or life event that’s hard to move on from, something happens. Temporary distortions start to develop in our minds. Our flight response overrides everything, causing us to feel anxious and panicky.
Whether you’re experiencing genuine fear and anxiety or well-camouflaged excitement, these bursts of adrenalin are often an indicator that change is around the corner.
Solution-focused hypnotherapy is a type of talking therapy and a powerful tool for helping with mental health issues such as managing anxiety brought on by the current conflict in Ukraine. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, you'll explore how and in what ways you’d like that change in yourself. This puts you in control of those bursts of adrenalin and turns any negatives into positive ones.
You'll also discuss the science of the brain and what happens to it when you experience anxiety. This is followed by the hypnosis part.
Hypnotherapy works well because, when you're in a trance (a completely normal state of being), your arousal levels are considerably lower. You can start to feel the wonderful stillness and quietness that acts as a stable platform. From here, positive change can be comfortably launched and then reinforced.