10 Steps for Resilience in Time of War
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Keep in touch with family, friends and others. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience. Some find comfort in connecting with a higher power, whether through organized religion or privately.
Help yourself by helping others.
Assisting others in a time of need can be empowering, such as volunteering at a community organization or helping families of active reservists or military personnel serving in the war.
Maintain a daily routine.
Keeping up with your daily routine of work, errands, household chores and hobbies provides you with a feeling of stability when the world around you seems chaotic. Sticking with a routine can be comforting to your children, as well.
Take care of yourself.
Make time to eat properly, exercise, and rest. Schedule time to do things you enjoy such as hobbies and social activities. Caring for yourself and even having fun will help you stay balanced and enable you to better deal with stressful times.
Give yourself a "news" break.
Be sure to control the amount of time you and your family spend watching and reading war-related news coverage. Although it's natural to seek out the news to keep informed, too much news can make you more anxious. Perhaps limit your news intake to no more than one hour a day, and try not to watch the news right before you go to bed, when you need to "wind down." It's okay to turn off the TV or radio and allow yourself to focus on non-war related things.
Have a plan.
Having an emergency plan in place will make you feel in control and prepared for the unexpected. Establish a clear plan for how you, your family and friends will respond and connect in the event of a crisis. Have a family or neighborhood meeting to talk about who to call in emergencies or designate a place to meet if you can't reach someone by phone. Make a plan for your pets and a list of items you will need to take in an emergency.
Prepare a Security kit.
When pulling together an emergency kit, remember to include those things that give you comfort and security such as a favorite book, a journal or pictures of loved ones. Also include a list of your loved ones' phone numbers so that you can re-establish connections with them as soon as possible.
Nurture a positive view of yourself.
Recall the ways you have successfully handled hardships in the past, such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce or major illness. Draw on these skills to meet current challenges. Trust yourself to solve problems and make appropriate decisions.
Keep things in perspective.
Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Remember that wars end and circumstances can ultimately improve. Previous generations have faced war and gone on to prosper - use their examples to inspire you.
Maintain a hopeful outlook.
An optimistic and positive outlook enables you to see the good things in your life and can keep you going even in the hardest times. There are positive things in everyone's life such as good health, a comfortable home and strong friendships. Taking the time to identify and appreciate them will enhance your outlook and help you persevere.
Resilience can be an important part of your emergency preparedness kit. It is a psychological tool that can help us deal with anxiety, fear and distressful events in a time of war.
Developing resilience is a personal journey. An approach to building resilience that works for you might not work for someone else. If you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed and unable to use the steps listed above, you may want to consider talking to someone who can help, such as a psychologist or other mental health professional. Turning to someone for guidance may help you strengthen resilience and persevere in a time of war. Information contained in this brochure should not be used as a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may need or benefit from care should consult a psychologist or other licensed health/mental health professional.
Please call us at (860) 832-1945 if you have any personal concerns and would like to set up an appointment with a counselor.
The American Psychological Association Practice Directorate gratefully acknowledges the following contributors to this publication:
Colonel Lyle W. Carlson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Medical Services Corps
Robin Gurwitch, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Nancy Molitor, Ph.D., Evanston, IL
H. Katherine (Kit) O'Neill, Ph.D., North Dakota State University and Knowlton, O'Neill and Associates, Fargo, ND
Dr. Ronald S. Palomares, Ph.D., Assistant Executive Director, Practice, American Psychological Assocation
Cmdr. Morgan Sammons, Ph.D., Navy Mental Health Department, Annapolis, MD
Copyright ©2003 American Psychological Association. All Rights Reserved