Mental Health

Children, Adults In Need Of Help: How To Cope With War, Pandemic Times

A Chicago doctor gives unique tips on navigating anxiety and stress during uncertain times.

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Mental health professionals are sounding the alarm when it comes to dealing with the stress of current events.

For more than two years, we've been dealing with many low points during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, war is breaking out on the other side of the globe. What happens in Ukraine will have lasting impacts, even here at home.

So, how do you cope? What do you tell your kids?

Dr. Kathy Zebracki, Chief of Psychology at Shriners Children’s Chicago, said being honest with yourself and your children will be key. The pandemic has increased our sense of anxiety which often spills over into other areas of our lives.

"It’s very real. As much as you want to hide your children from this, you can’t," said Zebracki. "Keep language simple."

Dr. Zebracki said to take age into account when having these conversations.

"When you’re talking to a teenager, you may be able to go into more details," said Zebracki. "But a toddler or 7-year-old … they just want to know they're safe."

Getting enough sleep is crucial. This is a routine that needs to be watched closely in children.

"Nightmares or trouble falling asleep, that’s their way of demonstrating to you that they’re in distress," said Dr. Zebracki.

If you notice your child is suddenly clinging to you more, this could also be a red flag.

As a way to cope, getting involved in the cause can ease anxiety as you contribute to a solution of the problem at hand.

"Have them write a letter to someone in the military. If they’re older, maybe they want to become part of a charitable organization," said Dr. Zebracki. "Just to let them know there’s some way they can help."

If you feel alone, you’re not. Be sure to watch the full news story above this article to hear the personal stories of two Chicagoans navigating these difficult times.

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