War Worries - How to Help Ourselves and Our Kids 

War Worries – How to Help Ourselves and Our Kids

26 March 2022 • Words by Karla Pretorius 3 mins

We are not used to worrying about war. We are not used to seeing videos and footage of bombings and people affected by the war. No one is, and I feel like no one should ever be “used to” these horrifying visuals of actual events. 

We can’t control what news channels or independent media posts. What we can choose is what we expose ourselves to and how much our children are exposed to. I strongly advocate curbing what you watch, how much of it, and how you process this information. It is absolutely horrible what is happening in Ukraine and other parts of the world. We are still traumatized by a pandemic that has ongoing financial and emotional effects on all of us.

If you had a grandparent or relative in a previous war, you might recall them being quite secretive about what happened during their served time. They might relay some of the events, but with a visible look of sadness, regret, and trauma. No one wants to relive moments of extreme anguish. No one wants to share these with their loved ones and expose them to these experiences. According to De Hoog and Verboon (2020), a higher negative effect on news that had personal relevance was reported. This indicates the importance of distancing yourself from world news that is not as relevant immediately to you and placing relevant news in perspective.

How do we ensure we protect ourselves and our children from the worrying war? 

We curb our exposure to social media

It is important to choose your source of networks that you feel are truthful and not fearmongering. News channels receive higher ratings when people stay longer on their platforms, stories, video footage, and the amount of “clicks” on these.

If we read the headline “Nuclear war looming,” we want to see how we can immediately protect ourselves, our children, and our loved ones. This seems like an imminent threat. I don’t want to downplay the severity of the situation, but I do understand media and marketing, being a company director for many years. Try and choose the news outlet or source of information wisely. If you want to watch or listen to world news, remind yourself to put a time limit on it. Make sure you “detox” from the amount of bad news you received.

Detoxing from bad news/world news

We usually give ourselves time to process after receiving sad or bad news in our personal lives. We rarely do this, if ever, when we receive global news that affects us emotionally (or at times physically or financially). For example, did you take time to process what lockdowns and being restricted to your home meant? Did you process the emotional trauma experienced and the lasting effects? Not many people did, but we can still include this practice in our daily lives.

We can start a “detox” hour at the end of the day with our entire family. We can ask what we are struggling to process and then find ways to work through this. Perhaps everyone can do a minute of silence and give each other or ourselves a big bear hug. Maybe we can all engage in short meditations or lie together with some breathing exercises.

Do what we can, but understand our limits

We all want to help people in need, especially in these worrying times. We might feel that we should donate to every charity or send money to links we find on social platforms. Although that is an excellent way of helping, we also need to remind ourselves that there might be people taking advantage of bad situations. Please think about how much you can if you can donate to an official organization. If you feel like you can donate a certain amount and you found an official organization or charity, know that this is more than adequate in helping. Most of us are not in a position where we can join the army in Ukraine or rescue refugees. Please also don’t inflict guilt when you are unable to donate.

We have all felt the pressure of the financial strain that Covid and the restrictions placed on us. It is most of the time not helpful to compare our sufferings with those individuals in a war. You will most definitely make yourself feel more guilty, which is not beneficial to you, your family, or those at war.

If there is one thing I would love for you to take from reading this is, it would be to take care of you first. If you are taken care of, your children have a better chance of having a calm parent. When you are relaxed, you can make logical decisions, including sadness for those affected by the war, but not a state of fear or irrational worry.

Karla Pretorius

A registered counselor with a MA in Psychology. Co-founder: AIMS Global & Leadership at: Augmental