War Anxiety:
Dealing with Rational Fear (and Other Emotions)

Many people have been experiencing strong feelings since the United States first began to prepare for war with Iraq; these feelings may have intensified with the actual outbreak of war. Listed below are some common reactions and strategies for coping:

Possible reactions:

It is important to keep in mind that each person will react in different ways, depending on the individualÝs natural temperament, social support, prior life experiences, and coping skills. There is no one "right" way to feel in this situation; it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions during this time. Common reactions include feelings of helplessness, fear, anxiety, hope, shame, pride, anger, loss of control, outrage, disillusionment, grief, lack of safety, concern for others, and powerlessness. You may also be experiencing the following:

You may find that you are having particularly strong reactions if current events are stirring up difficult memories or feelings from the past. Or, the current situation may be adding to the other stressors in your life in a way that is beyond your coping capabilities.

Coping Strategies:

People have different ways of coping with stress. Listed below are some productive and effective ways of coping with war-related stress. Also keep in mind that during such stressful times, it is especially important to be good to yourself and to engage in self-care activities.

Physical: Normalizing disrupted patterns

Seek medical attention if stress is making an existing medical condition worse or you have significant difficulty with eating or sleeping.

Emotional/Spiritual: Managing our feelings and dilemmas

Recognize what you can and cannot control. You may not have much control over the war activities, but you can control other things in your daily life. Although gathering information about the war is one way to try to feel more in control, this kind of information can actually increase stress levels; so, you may want to limit your exposure to news and information about the war. Other ways to gain more control over your life are to:

Political and Social Action: What can you do?

Regardless of your political stance, you may find it helpful to get involved in political or social actions around the war. This might include communicating to the media about the effectiveness of their coverage (or over-coverage) of the war. Remember that involvement may be time consuming, upsetting, and tiring as well as rewarding. Be sure to care for yourself by keeping balance in your life.

Resources:

http://helping.apa.org/resilience/war.html
http://helping.apa.org/daily/traumaticstress.html
http://www.nmha.org/reassurance/anniversary/index.cfm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=MH00021