The Covid Pandemic And The War in Ukraine Arouse Strong Death Anxieties Among Middle and High School Students

I am a therapist and a sophrologist based in France. In two years I have seen my profession change radically. Previously, people came to my practice office to better manage minor anxieties or to refine their lives. Some were looking for their calling, their life mission… It was really a zen job!

The Covid and then the War in Ukraine swept this frame away!

Today people come to my office with an extreme fear of death. Many cry and can no longer calm their stress and their generalized anxiety… It is not possible to flourish and to evolve positively in a world that tells about death and its suddenness all day long!

Although a therapist who manages her stress and her inner potential on a daily basis, I know that the danger is real. In France, we have been more or less quiet for 77 years. But today the Russia / Ukraine conflict has changed the situation. And above all, we are coming out of an unbearable period of confinement and restrictions due to Covid…

We no longer live as before. Our initial stress has turned into a more anchored and less visible one. Let’s remember that it’s worse because this stress has become chronic.

For children and especially college and high school students, the fear of death which has reigned for more than two years is intolerable.

Three days after the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, requests for appointments for middle and high school students have tripled.

There is an enormous guilt in these fears. The guilt of not taking full advantage of the present moment and already thinking of a pessimistic future. But there is also a guilt inthe simple fact of being afraid! When we experience anxiety because of war and Covid, our inner self whispers to us: “You are a coward and not a fighter!”

That’s why so many young people I receive exclude, at first, that their anxiety disorders are really and truly linked to Covid and to the death notion with which it is imprinted or to the war in Ukraine and the dance of galloping informations and traumatic pics.

It is only at the second or third session that middle and high school students begin to share their anxieties with sentences like: “Do you realize I haven’t experienced anything yet and we may be going all die” or “If Putin presses the button we’re all dead!” The youngest feel as there is “no more pilot on the plane”…

The media bear a heavy responsibility because they have lost all their neutrality, this neutrality which was, at the beginning, the very basis of the press worthy of the name! Are journalists responsible for publishing only a part of the truth, the darker one? I do think!

Today we read everywhere on the web and in magazines frightening and extremely alarmist titles as “This world war so far and so close at the same time” or “We are at the beginning of a third world war” and also ” Soon a nuclear attack or an end to the conflict?

Assuming the worst is not information! It’s pure clairvoyance! By becoming some “Mrs Irma”, some journalists in search of success and new readers, screw up the lives of the youngest!

I write it because that is exactly what is happening: our children are totally obsessed with the fear of a war that would kill everyone at the same time, a war where “deterrence” is no longer appropriate. ..

A few days ago I received a young girl who said to me: “I can’t take it so much anymore that I converted to Christianity. I prayed my guardian angel all evenings to suppress my fears, crying. As it didn’t work I thought about my best friend who died years ago and imagined him reassuring me as sharing a coffee with me and holding me in his arms. Then I felt better. Am I crazy?” And it’s not the only these days to create an imaginary bubble where the Covid and the war would not exist! Do you find it normal that our young people are in this mental state? I am talking here about college and high school students who are very supervised and supported by their parents… Parents who do not hesitate to pay a therapist 60 euros per hour. Imagine the fate of children with parents who take little or no care of them… Or those whose parents cannot afford to pay a therapist…

When I talk with friends about the situation, most say to me: “You know today, young people are flipping for nothing!” I remind you that many of these young people lost their grandparents during the Covid and did not even have the chance (should I say the permission) to tell them say a last goodbye through a normal funeral…

So of course we have to stay informed about what’s going on in the world we live in… But focusing all on the negative and pessimistic means an epidemic of depression among young people very soon. The brain cannot run at a constant lean. Even without an epidemic and without a war, let’s remember some young people live with constant parasitic ideas… Imagine their state of mind right now!

We all live with the Damocles sword of death above our heads from the age when we are old enough to understand it. But today this concept is made very real with all the images we see on TV: people seriously injured, bodies covered with sheets on stretchers, suitcases abandoned in the street…

Rape stories are beginning to emerge in the news. Young Ukrainian women, sometimes mothers, tell their story, at the border of the sustainable. Violence and death become very real. This is a situation that my grandparents experienced during their youth since they were, at the age of 20, both engaged in the Resistance. Of course there was Kuwait, we were on the ground but now the war is at the gates of Europe. How to reassure without lying?

In a next article I will explain how to appease these fears of death that emerge among middle and high school students and how to provide for their need for honesty and security.

I will give you tips to improve your quality of life without ignoring the situation as it is. It is possible to exploit your inner potential to resist this ambient anxiety while remaining anchored in our very physical world.

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