Fear of War Researcher: Too Much Fear Can Make You Ill

Poster with a handmade Ukrainian cultural map being held aloft by a woman with blue painted fingernails at a rally protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

News of the situation in Ukraine can weigh you down mentally, causing stress and anxiety to pile up. (Image: Carolina Jaramillo via Dreamstime)

The war between Russia and Ukraine goes on, despite the rounds of peace talks between politicians of the neighboring countries. This can create stress and fear in people. While those in the war zone are directly impacted and must deal with the aftermath, it does not mean people in other places are entirely unaffected. It is not only about the war leading to a shortage of crude oil, leading to fuel price hikes. The economic impact on the global economy is bound to be felt, creating fear for what lies ahead.

How fear of the war can impact your mind

Even if you are living in a country far from the war-torn regions, your mind can still be affected in many ways by fear.

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  • The hints of the Russian president about using nuclear weapons can be a big reason to worry. If nuclear weapons are actually used owing to rising conflicts, the impact will not remain limited to the territory of Russia and Ukraine.
  • If any of your relatives and friends are living or traveling in those countries or even in neighboring nations that can be a cause for worry.
  • If your work is related to any of these countries in any way, you might feel worried about job security and your future prospects.
  • If you are working in an NGO or organization dealing with orphans, poor people, or animal welfare, the details of damage and casualties in the war zone may disturb you greatly.
  • If you are already worried about an impending 4th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, you don’t want to add another fear to your list of worries.
Adding more fear to your list of worries is what you want to avoid.
If you are already worried about the next wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, you don’t want to add another fear to your list of worries. (Image: Juan Moyano via Dreamstime)

Some tips you can use to cope with fear and stress and their impact on your mind

From the latest developments, it is clear that the Ukraine war will go on for some more time. If the stress, fear, and anxiety keep piling on your mind, you will find it hard to lead a normal and balanced life.

1. Limit social media use

The first thing you can do to limit the impact of this warfare on your mind is to limit your usage of social media platforms. Resist the urge to check Facebook feeds or Twitter updates on the Ukraine war several times a day. The images of devastated urban landscapes and videos of war-hit residents pleading for help may make your senses numb. Limit the amount of exposure to war news in order to keep your mind balanced. Since these things are beyond your control, enhanced exposure to such news will only increase your anxiety and stress levels.

2. Limit discussions about the war

To reduce the impact of warfare on your mind, you need to limit how much time you spend discussing it with other people. The reality is, not everyone is getting news from sources that are credible, so you may end up believing things that are nothing more than rumors. That can lead to escalation of stress. This is what many people experienced in the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Spend time in nature

Now that the fear of acquiring an infection is not as great, you can try spending more time outdoors. Try leaving your gadgets and devices behind for a few hours. Go to a park or riverside where you can connect with nature and enjoy fresh air and serenity. This is essential for reducing stress levels. You may even take your pets for a walk if spending time outside all by yourself is not your cup of tea.

A weathered wooden sign with the words "nature trail" on it.
Go to a park or riverside where you can connect with nature and enjoy fresh air and serenity. (Image: THPStock via Dreamstime)

4. Make a contribution

For some people with a generous mindset, being able to do something for those in distress can be an ideal way to relieve stress. You may very well do your bit for the citizens of war-torn Ukraine without going there in person. A number of NGOs and charitable entities are accepting donations for aiding the citizens of Ukraine, and you can donate to such entities. 

5. Meditate

If you find the war news is causing you stress, resorting to mediation can be helpful, too. You can practice meditation at home. If you feel your environment lacks the proper ambiance, connect with others who meditate and practice together. You may find the group energy really uplifting.

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