5 tips for dealing with uncertainty in times of war

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tips on dealing with war

When conflict makes the headlines, it can make you feel fearful, sad, angry and anxious no matter where you are living. We’ve put together a few tips on how to cope when you feel overwhelmed

 

1. LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF NEWS YOU CONSUME 

When a conflict or war breaks out, many of us want to learn more by scrolling through social media and reading endless articles. But, a constant stream of upsetting images and headlines can make it feel like the crisis is all around us, leaving us feeling helpless and scared.  

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Tips for dealing with conflict

While it is good to stay informed, try to be mindful of how you’re consuming news: Identify key times during the day to check in on what is happening rather than constantly being online. As much as you are able, make some time to do things that help you relax and recuperate. 

Try not to check in on news/social media before going to sleep and try to take a full hour off before going to bed. Also try not to reach for your phone as soon as you wake up; allow your mind to wake up slowly before checking in on news updates. 

 

2. LEARN TO RECOGNISE MISINFORMATION 

During times of crisis, inaccurate information and ‘fake news’ can spread quickly. Misinformation works as a powerful machine – produced and distributed online by a wide range of sources, including people deliberately starting false rumours, ‘bots’ (social media accounts programmed by computers) automatically posting misinformation, and ordinary people who unwittingly share fake news with their followers. 

When we share things online without checking to see if the information is verified and factual – we help keep misinformation circulating. 

It is important that you learn how to spot misinformation (false information that’s shared by people who don’t realize it is false and don’t mean any harm) and disinformation (deliberately engineered and disseminated false information with malicious intent) or a rumour. Before you share online, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • WHO made it? 
  • WHAT is the source? 
  • WHERE did it come from? 
  • WHY are you sharing this? 
  • WHEN was it published? 

For more tips on fighting misinformation you can head here:

https://shareverified.com/topics/fighting-misinformation/  

 

3. SPREAD COMPASSION, NOT STIGMA 

Conflict often brings with it prejudice and discrimination, whether against a people or country. Try to avoid labels like “bad people” or “evil” and instead use it as an opportunity to encourage compassion. 

Even if a conflict is happening in a distant country, it can fuel discrimination on your doorstep. If you witness a friend or family member saying racist or discriminatory things, you should talk to them, if you feel safe to do so. Approach them privately first – in person or via direct message. 

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tips for dealing with conflict and war

They are more likely to be receptive if they don’t feel publicly embarrassed. Point out to them that what they are saying is racist or discriminatory and remind them that everyone has the right to dignity and that in many countries it is against the law to discriminate against a person because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, migration status, religion, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. Encourage them to learn more about the historical context of racial prejudice and discrimination and share resources that you have found helpful.    

Learn more about dealing with racism and discrimination here: 

https://www.voicesofyouth.org/blog/five-actions-you-can-take-against-racism-and-discrimination  

 

4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH 

Understanding how you feel is important. Don’t ignore it. As news of the conflict continues, you should check in with yourself. Do you feel worried, anxious, angry or sad about what’s happening? Are you seeing any changes in your behaviour like irritability, tearfulness or having headaches, stomach aches, nightmares or difficulty sleeping? 

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tips for dealing with conflict and war

To support your mental health you can: 

  • Do breathing exercises: Take 5 deep breaths, spend 5 seconds breathing in and 5 seconds breathing out, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

  • Put it on paper: writing your feelings down can help you to describe them. It might sound easy or simple, but try this: “I feel ....... right now”. 

  • Be kind to yourself: Putting pressure on yourself to always ‘be happy’ or ‘stay productive’ can sometimes make you feel worse. Instead, if you notice you are experiencing difficult emotions, try telling yourself: “I feel worried and scared, but that does not mean I am not coping.” “It’s been a tough time, it’s okay to be upset.” “I am feeling [insert how you are feeling] and that is okay.” “These are difficult times, it’s normal to feel upset.” 

  • Talk to someone you trust: It isn’t always easy to manage anger, worry, or sadness by yourself. Connect with a friend, a parent, a teacher, or a trusted adult about how you are feeling, and they may be able to help you. Sometimes just by connecting with someone else, you might feel better. 

  • Move your body: physical activity is important to help process feelings. Try to get outside for a walk, dance to your favorite song, or play a sports game with friends. Getting in some daily physical activity can help with strong emotions as well as help you sleep better. 

Find more tips on dealing with your mental health here: https://www.voicesofyouth.org/campaign/mental-health-wellbeing-guide-how-take-care-yourself-during-stressful-times 

 

5. FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN HELP 

Find out if there are local organizations that are doing fundraising, advocacy or solidarity actions that you can get involved with. Do some research online first and always remember to tell a guardian/parent where you are going (if you are under 18 and attending in person), or try to go with a friend (if you are over 18). 

 


SOURCES:

https://shareverified.com/topics/fighting-misinformation/

https://www.voicesofyouth.org/blog/five-actions-you-can-take-against-racism-and-discrimination

https://www.voicesofyouth.org/campaign/mental-health-wellbeing-guide-how-take-care-yourself-during-stressful-times

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