Coping with crisis
The current situation is particularly distressing to students from Ukraine and Russia, but may cause concern for many other students too, regardless of their country of origin.
- If you are a student from the Ukraine, you may be unsure about the safety of your family or friends at home. You might be unsure about when you are able to go home or visit, and concerned about what state your home country will be in when you do return.
- If you are a student from Russia or Belarus, you might be worried about your loved ones too, and also about how others may perceive you or treat you because of your country’s role in the conflict. You might also worry about whether you can travel home, and what state your home will be in when you return.
- If you are a student from countries in close proximity to the conflict, you might have concerns about how it will unfold and impact your home and loved ones.
- Regardless of where you are from, you may be concerned about the potential for the conflict spreading and impacting Europe or the world, and your own future life.
We at Studenterrådgivningen are here to support you, and to help you figure out how to handle being a student at this difficult time.
We can talk to you about:
- How the situation is impacting you, and what you need to help you cope
- How to manage your time and energy, so that you can continue your studies as well as possible, despite the situation
- How to handle excessive worry, so that it doesn’t take over your life
- Figuring out if you need to seek extensions or time off from your studies, because of the impact of the situation on your ability to study
Advice on how to cope through the crisis
Stick to the facts
Follow reliable news-outlets for regular (max twice per day) updates on the situation. Don’t rely on message boards, social media or rumours. Avoid “doomscrolling” where you overload yourself with negative imagery and words that create more distress. You need facts about the present moment, not hear-say, speculations or predictions about the future.
Allow yourself to feel
In this situation, it is natural to feel frightened, sad, angry, and confused. If you find yourself overwhelmed, slow down and rest. You may experience numbness or notice that you are “zoning out” at times – this is your brain’s attempt to create distance from all the distress. Re-connect to yourself and reality by doing small, everyday things: Have a cup of tea, do the dishes, fold clothes etc. Share your feelings and concerns with those close to you.
Limit worry and exposure
If your mind tends towards speculations about imagined disastrous futures – practice sticking with the facts, and returning to the present moment. Engage in practical tasks or seek out the company of others to change your state of mind. If you get triggered by news-updates and notifications on your device, consider switching them off for the time being.
It can be hard to continue normal life when there is a war going on. But it is vital for your mental health that you continue to engage in everyday life: Attend lectures, meet your friends, buy groceries, and submit your assignments to the best of your ability. It is natural for your thoughts to focus on the very real and serious situation unfolding. But practice returning to your physical reality: Where you are in the present moment, and the things and people who are right in front of you. This will help you feel safe.
Make a list or a weekly schedule of your commitments, including college work. If you’re unable to do it all, make decisions on what to do, and when to do it. Be clear with yourself about what you’re dropping and why.
Keep in touch
If you’re concerned about the safety of your loved ones, have regular check-ins with them, so you can rest assured that they are safe.
Be open and seek support
If you are unable to focus on your course work or attend classes, reach out to your teacher or the course administrator to let them know what is going on. Ask for extensions or check the options for re-examination, if you can’t manage assignments or exams. But consider whether you can continue engaging with your studies and lowering your expectations of your own performance instead.
Do your part
We all feel powerless in the face of war. If there is anything you feel that you can do, to make a positive difference, do it. Engage in collecting money or supplies for refugees, take part in political discussions and protests if this feels right for you, or listen to the concerns of friends and family.
Studenterrådgivningen (the Student Counselling Service) is here to listen and support you through this time. Call us on +45 70 26 75 00 (9-12, Monday-Friday) to book a counselling session – we meet students on zoom, face to face or over the phone.