Coping With Anxiety About the Threat of War

The war in Ukraine has amplified anxieties for many and we’re not too many thoughts away from catastrophising about the possibility of an all-out world war.  It can be difficult for us to try and make sense of this complex situation and to feel ok with feeling in control.  Also, unlike other wars across the world, this feels close and we are able empathise with it much more easily.

The last few years have been underpinned with uncertainty and full of highs and lows.  It’s been a momentous time in our lives.  Uncertainty can breed anxiety as it takes aware our sense of security and control.

Most anxieties are about a perceived future threat; the fear of what could happen.  Our anxieties have a plausibility because what we worry about could happen and we can convince ourselves that a vague possibility is an imminent probability, which can become terrifying.

So how do we cope with this anxiety?  As with any anxiety, it’s not always easy as our fundamental (and unconscious) need to be aware of threat to be able to protect ourselves, over-rides most other brain functions, however …….

1 – Being aware is key.  Being aware that we’re anxious is helpful as we can then acknowledge that we may be worrying too much and that we’re overthinking.  We may want to notice what our thoughts are and where we’re feeling anxiety.

2 – Protecting ourselves from the media.  Media exposure can easily increase our anxieties for a number reasons such as what we hear, read and see is often dramatized to get our attention as all the media providers compete for our attention.  We may also see the same stories over and over again on social media platforms, on the news, on the radio and in papers.  This distorts our view of reality making the danger seem bigger than it is.  Social media often distorts or reports false news or distorted images which can damage us and distort our thinking creating great anxieties.

To help protect us, you may want to switch off any news alerts, avoid social media, choose 1 news source that you may view no more than once a day and turn your phone off when you go bed.

3 – Acceptance and realistic thinking.  What is happening right now is an uncertainty, but it’s important to have a realistic view.  One of the most effective ways to achieve this is by talking to people around us.  Talking engages the logical parts of our mind so we are more able to see things realistically which reduces our ability to worry (whereas overthinking actives our threat system creating anxiety).  In the absence of having people we can talk to, writing has a similar affect.

Talking with your children is also very helpful as if we avoid this, children tend to worry more and will overthink into distorted thought patterns.  It’s important to be matter of fact and reassuring; to let them know that they are safe.

4 – Self-care.  Seek to be in the here and now enjoying what you have in life.  We’re all aware of how to look after ourselves well and there’s often a need to refresh and re-energise how we care for ourselves as we often slip into complacency.  Maybe write a few ideas of things you could do this week whether that be speaking to friends and family more, arranging a night out, getting close to nature, meditating again or exercising.

These are some further useful brief articles –

As always, feel free to add a question or comment.  They will always be responded to.

Best wishes,


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