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Be Well Community: Caring for ourselves while experiencing concerns of war

Regardless of what each of us might be experiencing right now, it is okay to not be okay.


This week, the world woke up to news of crisis and invasion in Ukraine. For those of us in America, while this war is thousands of miles away, uncertainties and impacts of war span the globe and generations. There is an abundance of concern related to this conflict, including food and gas prices, worry for those who are living in Ukraine and the surrounding countries, as well as the safety of our own families on U.S. soil.

We lift up Ukraine, Ukranians, Ukranian immigrants, Ukranian Americans, Russians who are standing against war, military personnel, military families, the generations who lived through and continue to feel the impacts of WWII and the Cold War, as well as each and every one us. We are living in a time when we have unlimited access to news, images and updates from around the world. That can come at a cost to our mental health. It can be too much. Knowing what’s happening in another country, but having very little ability to help, can be triggering and traumatic for many of us.

For those of Ukrainian or Russian descent, this news comes with an elevated level of fear because of personal connection to the crisis. There may be worry about how they might be treated in their current communities, or for the safety of friends and family living in the cities being attacked.

There’s also an element of concern for current and former U.S. military personnel. Veterans may be dealing with intense discomfort seeing the images and videos coming out of the areas under fire. Service members and their families may be awaiting news of deployment to dangerous areas.

Regardless of what each of us might be experiencing right now, it is okay to not be okay. This is a heavy, daunting and scary situation no matter what our lens may be. Let’s remember to take care of ourselves during this time so we can continue to show up as our best selves in the spaces we’re in.

We can start by taking inventory of what we’re feeling. Sadness? Stress? Anger? All emotions are valid. Every experience is unique. Then we can consider what we need right now. Quiet time? Fresh air? A deep breath? We can give ourselves permission to do whatever it is that we need to get to the next moment.

The Be Well Community reminds each of us to use the LAUGH acronym to ground ourselves when the world feels a little too heavy:

  • Limit exposure to negativity.
  • Anchor by developing rituals and routines for structure.
  • Unite by not letting physical distance lead to social and emotional isolation.
  • Be Gentle with yourself and others. We’re all doing the best we can.
  • Focus on Health, including physical, emotional, social and family.

Once we’ve processed our own experiences and are feeling comfortable to do so, those of us who are parents might consider communicating with our children or young people who look up to us. They may not understand but are likely unable to avoid the news of the world. This is scary for them too. We can consider using this resource from NBC’s TODAY to prepare for a conversation with children of all ages.

If we’re ever in a place where we’re too overwhelmed and just need someone to talk to, Burrell’s free Crisis Line is available 24/7. Burrell’s Crisis Specialists can help manage crises or emergency situations right now.

Below are links that connect to Burrell services, as well as a link to the Veterans Crisis Line operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Burrell Behavioral Health wants each of us to know we’re not alone. We are all feeling a mix of emotions and we can all process them together. Burrell’s Be Well Community will hold space to discuss the situation in Ukraine, while offering wellness resources at 12 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 on the Burrell Center Facebook page.


24-Hour Crisis Line

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis, please call our toll-free 24-hour telephone line. Our team can help provide immediate assistance.

Southwest Missouri: 1-800-494-7355

Central Missouri: 1-800-395-2132

National Help Line: Call or Text 988