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How to deal with war anxiety at work

Illustration of person looking worried
Published Mar 29, 2022

As the level of preparedness in society increases due to threats of war, how do you manage your own and colleagues’ worries at work in the best way? Psychologist Margareta Kucera at Avonova, KTH’s occupational health service, shares her best tips.

The fact that people are worrying about the current state of the world is a healthy sign, rather than a problem, according to Margareta Kucera.
“First off, I want to declare the feeling of worry healthy, it’s a completely normal feeling. After the pandemic years, we know that most of us have a good ability of dealing with worry by ourselves. Now that we are spending more time at our offices, my tip is to view it as an opportunity to have discussions with colleagues in break rooms and office corridors.”

Portrait of Margareta Kucera
“I usually say that worry can exist as long as it doesn’t take over. A way of viewing it is that you’re allowed to carry it with you at work during the day as long as you’re not hindered by it,” says Margareta Kucera, psychologist at Avonova, KTH’s occupational health service.

She says that even though people react in different ways to worry, most of us feel better when we put our concerns into words.
“But at the same time, it’s important to be considerate of other people by refraining from using an alarming, sensational way of speaking, so that you don’t scare yourself and other people for no reason.”

“It’s also important to limit your news consumption if you start to feel down from all the information about the war. To help yourself overcome anxiety you can for instance limit your intake of news to two daily updates,” Margareta Kucera says.

When should you seek help for anxiety?
“When you’re no longer able to live your life normally, for example because of thoughts affecting your sleep. Or if you can’t, don’t dare or don’t have the energy to work or meet friends because of anxiety. When the feelings hinder you in your everyday life, it’s time to contact a health centre or your occupational health service.”

How can you prevent an excessive state of worry?
“Make sure you have routines. Prioritise sleep. Limit news consumption and don’t watch war reports right before bed time.
-Eat regularly and choose foods that give you energy. Avoid larger quantities of sugar and alcohol. Make sure you move a lot—to get exercise and to get your mind off concerns.
-Take action! We enjoy the feeling of doing something when we are worried, since actions can create a feeling of control. Do what you can to support during the crisis, perhaps by raising money or collecting supplies for those in need.”

How can managers help employees cope with worry?
“Acknowledge the situation, for example by writing a few lines in a newsletter, or by commenting the situation at a meeting. This increases the feeling of security and anchors into reality at the workplace.
-Be aware of how your employees and colleagues are feeling. Ask questions to find out if there is need for extra support, and show respect and understanding for those who do not want to talk about the situation.”

Katarina Ahlfort
Illustration: Mostphotos

Belongs to: Current
Last changed: Mar 29, 2022