Wars Abroad Can Hit Close to Home
Tips for Managing War Anxiety
While we often refer to Eagle County as a bubble, the people of our “happy valley” are not immune to the tragedies taking place abroad. For some, thinking about wars around the world can cause anxiety and depression. Some may experience overwhelming feelings of empathy and concern for people enduring war or excessive worry about something similar taking place closer to home. Often dubbed “war anxiety,” these types of fears are also referred to as “headline stress disorder” or “nuclear anxiety.”
“Exposure to media content related to the violence in our world can be challenging for some, due to the sensitive and often emotionally charged nature of the topic,” said Paige Baker-Braxton, a doctor of psychology and the director of outpatient services at Vail Health Behavioral Health. “Knowing how to manage your exposure to unsettling content and engage in healthy discussions around the latest news can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”
Below are some of Dr. Baker-Braxton’s tips for recognizing emotions, managing stress and getting help if needed.
- Approach discussions with empathy, recognizing that people on both sides of the issue may have deeply held beliefs and personal experiences. Be respectful and considerate of the emotions and perspectives of others, even if you disagree.
- Be mindful of how much media and violence you are consuming:
- Create media-free zones or times where you limit access to media and focus on an activity in the here-and-now.
- If content related to the conflicts abroad becomes overwhelming or distressing, consider muting or unfollowing accounts that consistently share such content.
- Use content filters or custom privacy settings to control what you see on your social media feed.
- Engage in activities that promote self-care:
- Maintain a routine.
- Engage in physical activity, get outside.
- Eat well.
- Sleep well.
- Connect with supportive people.
- If you or a loved one are having trouble managing war anxiety, find a therapist at VailHealthBH.org/FindATherapist.
- While it can be difficult, talking to children at home about conflict and war is important. UNICEF provides eight helpful tips on how to support and comfort your child.
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