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In recent days, the situation in the Ukraine has escalated to war. While it is unclear how this conflict will play out or how long it will continue, people may feel stressed in the midst of the unknown.
Fox News spoke with mental health experts who offered advice on managing stress during this time.
According to Dr. Laurel Mellin, a California-based health psychologist, it’s important to recognize that there are different types of stress: high stress and low stress, both of which you must manage in particular ways.
For example, mindfulness and cognitive thinking can help people cope with low-stress situations, but they won’t be effective in high-stress situations. In these scenarios, the fight or flight response can kick in and people stop thinking clearly and their emotions can become toxic.
“The fight or flight response causes the thinking brain to shut down and the emotions to become toxic,” he said. “Cognitive control fails to turn off the stress response.”
Mellin recommends learning to express our emotions carefully. She says that standing in front of a mirror and having a quick burst of healthy anger can shift the gears in her brain and help her think clearly again. While negative emotions may start to flow, they are often followed by positive emotions in a process she calls an “upward spiral.”
He also recommends learning about the situation so that the neocortex can tell a story about what is happening. This engages the thinking parts of the brain and helps prevent stress overload.
Mental health activist and author of “The Precipice of Mental Health: Becoming Your Own Safe Space,” Achea Redd recommends finding time to do something creative or spend time outdoors.
“Find time to get out in nature or do something creative to take your mind off the ‘real world,'” Redd explained. “(This is) what we call healthy escapism.”
Limiting your media consumption to only certain times of the day and not getting news from social media is also helpful, she says.
Hesha Abrams, a conflict resolution attorney and author of “Holding the Calm,” also recommended focusing on doing something productive. Accomplishing something can help keep your mind clear. According to her, stress clouds people’s judgment, so it’s important to stay calm.
“As stressed citizens, there is nothing we can do,” Abrams explained. “As clear-thinking, healthy and involved citizens, we can speak up and express our opinions calmly and productively.”