How to cope with the impact of the conflict in Ukraine

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Health Assured team

18 March 2022

The war in Ukraine has dominated headlines over the last couple of weeks, tearing the country apart, separating families and displacing millions of people. We’ve seen harrowing news articles, heart-breaking stories, and prayed for the people affected.

Those directly affected have had their lives turned upside by the events. But the impact of the conflict spans far and wide—to all corners of the world. Maybe you have family members caught up in the conflict, you're worried about what might happen in the future, or you’re unsure how to navigate the constant stream of information.

It’s important to remember that it’s normal to be affected by the devastation we’re seeing. Try to acknowledge how you’re feeling and don’t let it bottle up.

Protect your mental health 

Times of stress can greatly impact our mental health, so it’s important to take preventative measures and take care of the basics essential to good mental health. How can you nurture good mental health?

There are four pillars of health that are essential for our bodies and minds to function properly. They are:

  • Physical activity
  • Social connection
  • A healthy diet
  • Sleep

When any of these areas come up short, our mental and physical health can take a knock.

Another factor involved in mental health is your ability to manage stress. Everyone has different stress tolerance levels and coping mechanisms. There are tools you can use to increase your resilience—and keep stress at bay. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness and self-care can keep us grounded during times of turbulence.

Talk to others 

Try not to bottle up any underlying emotions or thoughts about the conflict or the surrounding news. Everyone will react to this devastation and trauma in different ways. Know that however you’re feeling is okay. But if you are feeling particularly anxious or overwhelmed about the ongoing war in Ukraine, then speak to someone you trust. When we keep emotions in, it strains our mental health and impacts our relationships with others.

Practise gratitude 

Gratitude helps us shift our perspective and focus. When we consider what we are grateful for, we shift our attention away from negative emotions. We instead choose to home in on the things we appreciate in our lives. It could be people, places, or possessions we hold dearly. Taking some time each day to reflect on the positive in our lives boosts our mood and mental state. And this elevated mindset helps us navigate the waves of tough times.

Worried about the kids?

Kids are intuitive. They pick up on conversations and background TV or radio. If your children are in school, they will have probably heard about the war. These stories can be extremely worrying for children to hear. They don’t have the knowledge and life experience that adults do, so it’s hard for them to understand the extent of the unfolding events in Ukraine. So as caregivers it’s important to normalise any emotions they're feeling. If your child wants to talk about things, then sit time and take time to hear them, don’t judge them and ease their emotions with supportive words. Reassure them and let them know that they can talk to you whenever they are upset.

 

Helpful information

UK Embassy in Ukraine Phone: +380 44 490 3660 (open 24 hours, 7 days a week).

Ukrainian Red Cross Society

Ukraine travel information 

 

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