Dealing with war anxiety | Rebecca Jane column

It feels irresponsible to not read the news. On the other hand, reading the news is traumatic, stressful and anxiety inducing.

By Rebecca Jane
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 5:44 pm

When the Ukraine war began, I started limiting myself to reading news once a day. In the beginning, I tried to vow not to read the news, but that feels impossible. I also do want to know of the atrocities unfolding in Ukraine, because I want so send my empathy and sympathy - however, there’s a fine line between sympathy and being detrimental to my own health.

I’ve seen anxiety levels raise to unprecedented levels over the last two years. If we heard about the latest war three years ago, I don’t feel it would have held the same impact.

It is my belief that anxiety levels have risen with the Ukraine war because we have spent two years being shown ‘anything is possible’.

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Rebecca Jane

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Flash back two years, if you had been told schools, every shop, bar, and even McDonalds would shut their doors for a whole six months, you wouldn’t believe them.

Two years later, our economy is floored and we haven’t recovered, mentally or physically.

Today, anxiety about war unfolding on our shores feels very real. Schoolchildren, just like our own, going to school and their lives are over by the end of the day. People in normal office jobs a couple of weeks ago, they’re now on the front line. The impact of this war is horrific.

It’s ok if you’re struggling to cope with the news. This is war, and it is going to be impactful and difficult for generations to come.

Acceptance is a difficult thing to find, and often feels far from a choice. Please find whatever strength or power you have within you to accept your own feelings and what you cannot change. If there’s nothing you can do, the only person your stress or anxiety will affect is you.

If you’re struggling, here are a few suggestions that may be helpful:

Limit your news intake. Keeping up with every minor update can feel entirely overwhelming. If you feel your mental health would be better taking a break from the news and socials, do it.

Nature. When I was in the middle of panic one time, a wise man once said ‘go outside RJ, it holds all the answers’.

Get the endorphins going. Yes, the dreaded word ‘exercise’. Get those chemicals running around your body, because if you don’t feel anything great right now, it’s time to engineer your own happiness.

Spend time with those you love, and be thankful for them. We all know that there are a lot of people out there who wish they could have another 5 minutes with someone they love. If you have everyone you want, be with them. Make time. Spread love and appreciate what we have.

Professional help... so many people we speak to right now feel guilty at how they are feeling about the unfolding war. Please don’t. Like I said, everything you feel is valid. If you are finding it impossible to move on with life, it’s entirely consuming you and it all feels too much right now – reach out for help.

For anyone struggling today, you have all my love and sympathy.

I’m still praying for peace.