How to Manage Stress & Anxiety Over the Ukraine Crisis

The GW Resiliency & Well-being Center is here to support you through these trying times
February 28, 2022
photo Illustration  for help, support, advice, guidance

In times like these, we need to focus on "making the darkness small."  Like many of you, over these past several weeks we have monitored with deep concern the growing crisis in Ukraine.   We recognize that there are members of our university community who are personally impacted by these events, and our entire community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni may be understandably worried and fearful. The loss and pain associated with war and conflict is profound, and it affects us all.

The GW Resiliency & Well-being Center is here to support you through these trying times.  One of the things you can do is make your circles of support bigger by talking to family and friends, taking advantage of SMHS and MFA well-being and employee assistance programs resources, such as Headspace, Talkspace, and free counseling sessions.   The R&W Center has weekly support groups or individual consults with a licensed clinical professional counselor or other behavioral health professional.

Narrow down information overload - there is a lot of information out there and it is hard to separate the wheat from the weeds.  Limit the amount of information you take in so you have some space to save energy that you otherwise would spend on worrying about every piece of news out there. 

Conserve energy—don't deprive yourself from rest, restorative sleep, food, time for yourself. Those are vital parts of you being able to carry on despite the turmoil around you. 

Focus on what you CAN control—most of what is going on in Ukraine right now is beyond our controls.  We can only focus on what we can do with our time and energy to stay healthy and sane.  It can be praying for people there or sending a supportive email or text to someone you know from that part of the world.  It does not have to be anything big but if it feels meaningful and makes you feel connected, use it. 

Don't forget to breathe—Calm your nervous system down with deep breathing and meditation.

Rumi said that "the wound is the place where the light gets in—accept your emotions as they are without judgement or overanalyzing.  Our soul can only grow when we are able to feel. It shows that we are alive and as long as we are alive there is HOPE.

Find a sense of hope and meaning—we cannot persevere as individuals and nations without a sense of hope and purpose. It is a cornerstone of our survival. Try to see a bigger picture, look at how this experience brings a lot of us together, show the power of human connection and support. Find your sense of meaning and empowerment in what seems to be meaningless and unspeakable. 

Other R&W Center Resources on anxiety, stress management, and grief.