Anxiety due to distressing world events

Things you can do to help reduce the anxiety and worry

It’s understandable to feel anxious about the war in Ukraine

It is natural to feel worried, anxious and upset about what is happening , to its people, and the wider impact of the war too.

What is happening to me when I feel anxious?

Feelings of Anxiety & Stress releases hormones called Adrenaline and Dopamine, which prepare us to Fight, Fright (freeze) and Flight (run) – raising our heart rate and breathing, we can get sweaty palms and feel butterflies in out stomach – usually this then settles down, after we have run away for example, or we have realised we don’t need to worry.

We can have a sense of helplessness about the situation

The reason why many people may be feeling quite anxious, is that there is a sense of helplessness about the situation, and seeing people distressed and displaced is upsetting. You may feel like you can’t do anything, so the feeling of anxiety stays with you.

Also, for some adults and children, thoughts can spiral about the situation too, and affect your day-to-day living – like finding it hard to enjoy yourself or feeling guilty if you do.

Some adults and children can also ‘catastrophise’ about the situation and things nearer to home too, which is extreme worry about the absolute worst things happening to people you care about.

Children and adults show worry in different ways

Adults for the most part can voice how they feel, or at least know a bit more about why they feel the way they do and talk to others about the situation – talking is helpful.

For children, the anxiety they feel can come out in different ways, like being extra clingy, having a tummy ache or not wanting to sleep on their own – and if you are worried or anxious, they are feeling it too.

Things that could help:

  • It is remembering that the terrible situation that is happening in Ukraine is beyond your control.
  • Try to focus on the things you are in control of – like limiting watching the news, to perhaps once a day, and not before bedtime. Also be conscious of getting your news from a credible source.
  • Try to shield young children from the news, maybe have it on when they are not around, their young tender minds can find difficult images especially, hard to process. Try not to avoid the subject altogether though, especially if they show signs of worry – as mentioned – reassure them, extra cuddles and a teddy they can tell their worries to and hug. Find out what they have learnt at school, do they know where Ukraine is? It can be helpful for younger children to know that the war is quite far from them.
  • For older children do listen to their concerns. Try not to say; ‘everything will be alright’ have a conversation and explain what is happening in as sensitive a way as you can and about your concerns, but also what things you CAN do. You can advise them to limit their online activity. Depending on their age – possibly no internet / phone at bedtime
  • Find out what things you CAN do locally to help – from donations of hygiene goods, clothes, and toys, at community centers, school, colleges and churches.
  • Could you donate to larger organisations like The Red Cross, UNICEF or Save the Children?

*This can help you – as you are doing something valuable to help victims of the crisis – how ever big or small – it all collectively helps.

  • Maybe you are in a position to welcome families or individuals from the Ukraine? Find out what is happening in your area.

Focus on other things that are in your control too, that will help reduce your anxiety levels

  • Get out into green spaces and the fresh air
  • Exercise
  • Try mindfulness and be quiet and just breathe
  • Get enough sleep 7- 8 hours
  • Eat well and stay hydrated
  • CONNECT with others – you don’t need to be alone with how you feel
  • Think about what & who you are thankful for
  • You can also get extra help, support and ideas from so many wonderful organisations, the BBC have a helpful page on their website, there is Mind, Anxiety UK and many others


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