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Psychological Effects of War

Many people have been affected by the stress of the Ukraine war. There are at least five current wars and over 50 armed conflicts active in the world. The Syrian war includes 600,000 deaths. It’s difficult to imagine the trauma that victims experience. Helplessness, anxiety, and fear can affect anyone with a personal history of war trauma or any life-threatening event. Be mindful of overexposure to war news. Videos, feeds, news, and social media are as close as your smartphone. Be cautious about accepting any story as immediately true. Disinformation, or “psyops,” is used in war routinely to manipulate emotions, and you can be affected unnecessarily. Take care of yourself with positive health practices and stress management exercises. If you have a family member such as a child emotionally affected by war news, don’t discourage them from “thinking about it.” Encourage they share their feelings and help them (process) their reaction. Then discuss ways to cope with the stress. (Empathy is a healing force that helps put strong emotions in their place.) If you are from a war-torn country, came from one nearby, or have friends and family who are there right now, your reaction can be especially distressful. But every person has a different coping style for severe stress or trauma. Don’t judge yourself or others for having different emotional reactions to traumatic events. If your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), reach out for support. It’s the best first step to winning over stress.

Kristina Johanson | 5/1/2022

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