University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Resiliency in a Time of War

Resilience: The ability to adapt well in the face of hard times. Below are some things you can do to build your own resilience as you face the news of war.

  • Make connections: Keep in touch with family, friends, a faith community and others. Don't be afraid to express your opinion, even if your parent or friend takes the opposite view. Understand that some people may express hatred for people from a certain country or region - it doesn't mean that you have to. If talking isn't enough, do something else to capture your emotions, like journaling, praying or creating art.
  • Help yourself by helping others: Volunteer, help families of active reservists/military personnel, clean up around the house or apartment, or help a friend with his or her homework.
  • Maintain a daily routine: School, work, errands, household chores, and hobbies provide you with a feeling of stability when the world around you seems chaotic. Don't forget the routines that give you comfort, whether it's the things you do before class, going out to lunch, or a nightly phone call with a friend.
  • Take care of yourself: The stresses of war may heighten daily stresses cut yourself some slack. Make your room or apartment a "no war zone" home should be a haven free from the stress and anxieties associated with war. Take care of yourself - physically, mentally and spiritually. Be sure to get some sleep. Learn some relaxation techniques, whether it's thinking of a particular song in times of stress, or just taking a deep breath to calm down.
  • Give yourself a "news" break:" Although it's natural to seek out the news to keep informed, too much news can make you more anxious. Watching a news report once informs you; watching it over and over again just adds to the stress and contributes no new knowledge. Allow yourself to focus on non-war related things.
  • Have a plan: Establish a clear plan for how you, your family and friends will respond and connect in the event of a crisis. Designate a place to meet if you can't reach someone by phone. If you've got family or friends in the military, get as much information as you can about where that person will be, how long they'll be gone, and how often they'll be able to contact you.
  • 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.
  • 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 your abilities 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. Think about the important things that have stayed the same, even while the outside world is changing. When you talk about bad times, make sure you talk about good times as well.
  • 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.

This document contains information adapted from materials prepared by the American Psychological Association, 2003