Delayed Life Syndrome: ways to recover your mental health during the war

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19.04.2022
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Candidate of Psychological Sciences Tetyana Kostenko speaks on how to find motivation for life and return to everyday duties during the war

People often talk about the “Delayed Life Syndrome” during the war. This is not a mental or psychological disorder, but it can cause depression, neurosis, apathy, etc. To determine if you have Delayed Life Syndrome, do a simple exercise. Divide the sheet into three columns. Write your dreams (goals) for the last few years that have not come true in the first column. Use the second one to write what you’ve done to achieve these goals. And the third column is for the reasons why, in your opinion, these goals have not been achieved.

If the reasons resemble excuses: “because I had little time”, or “because my parents bothered me” – it means that you have the “Delayed Life Syndrome”.

Stop waiting for something all the time: a better day, an occasion, a year… Start living now, today. Life is not a draft, you do not need to rewrite, so take the chance to write in legible and beautiful handwriting! Now it is the most relevant situation. It is time to act and even in this difficult time to find motivation for life.

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes you to act, to have a plan, be organized, be active and resilient, and most importantly – meet your needs.

Of course, we do not have a button that can eliminate emotions provoked by the current situation, we can not force ourselves to do something, so we need a clear algorithm of action that will help.

Start to act. You need to remember what you planned to do but did not have time for because of the war. You should start with the basics: transplant flowers, sort the things out, start painting a picture… Just start making a list of plans, and you will feel what you would like to do the first, even while writing. And then do that!

Create a detailed plan. By making plans according to the first point, you can stop yourself by saying: “What is this all for?…”, So you need to have a plan in case of all possible scenarios. No matter what happens, a detailed plan will not let to get you off the track.

Stay organized. And not only for yourself but for others. You feel more involved in the process when helping others. So look for someone you would like to help.

Be active and resilient. You can do different kinds of activities in the current situation, but you need to feel some fun. It’s important to find what you enjoy doing. No matter what, it can be posting to social media, cooking, volunteering, etc.

Meet your needs. If possible, you should eat regularly, drink enough water and get enough sleep. Your other needs come from feelings and desires.

Techniques and exercises to restore the flow state

Exercise 1. A daily dose of motivation. Write a few supporting messages to yourself, like, “You can do anything today,” “This day will give you strength and energy,” and so on. Read them and accept.

Exercise 2. Good friends. Think about who you can call now and get support. Often, when we tell our friends and relatives about our daily routine, we do not even notice how the strong belief in victory is returning.

Exercise 3. Draw a circle. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle on it. And then continue drawing. You can draw anything that comes to your mind. Or vice versa – draw without involving consciousness. You can use any materials for drawing – pencils, paints, pens, etc. The color also does not matter. It is recommended to do this exercise for at least 10 minutes. You can set an alarm clock so as not to be distracted by checking the clock. This exercise helps to relax our mind and psyche, calm down, and when performed regularly reduces anxiety.

Exercise 4. Breathing techniques.

– Inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath, counting to eight. Then slowly exhale through your mouth, counting to 16 or more. Listen to your breathing. Notice how the tension decreases with each breath. Repeat 7-8 times.
– Inhale and exhale slowly. Then inhale deeply and hold your breath for four seconds, exhale. Repeat six times – and you will see that you become calmer.

Exercise 5. Lemon. Put your hands down and imagine that you are holding a lemon in your right hand, and you need to squeeze lemon juice. Slowly, clench your right hand into your fist as hard as you can. Feel how tense it is. Now imagine you throwing the lemon out – relax your hand.

Exercise 6. Bird spreading wings. Imagine that you are a bird with its wings folded and firmly pressed to your body. Connect your shoulder blades, and feel the tension in your back. Now slowly relax your muscles. Your wings straighten and become strong and weightless. You feel relaxed. Repeat the exercise 5-7 times.

Exercise 7. Resting place. Sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Inhale and exhale calmly. Imagine sailing in a boat. You are far from home. All the problems and worries remain there, and you feel free, there is no burden of responsibility. Your boat is calmly floating on the waves. You are enjoying the peace and warm sunny day. You feel calm and relaxed. Continue breathing slowly. Warm, soft, calmness spreads throughout your body. You are free. You see a small island. Likewise, you are attracted by the island’s views, you want to find peace, protection, and comfort there. The boat approaches it. You are strolling alongside the shore. You feel the warm sand under your feet. Furthermore, you lie down and relax. You feel a slight taste of sea salt on your lips. Here is your harbor.

Enjoy your feelings. Remember, you can come back here anytime. This place will give you a feeling of confidence, strength, and security. Now say goodbye to this place, it’s time to come back to reality. Open your eyes slowly.

How to find the strength to continue caring for children and do parenting?

In wartime, the main task of parents is to do everything possible to ensure that children are safe and have food and water. In a constant state of fear and stress, parents can not control their psychological state, which hurts children. Remember that in case of an emergency on the plane the adult has to put the mask on first because only then he can save the child. Therefore, parents need to keep in mind the balance of vital areas of their lives. Parents should remember the simple rule of “happy parents – happy children” and try to get back to life even when it seems impossible…

Our brain can block all the processes that prevent us from concentrating on saving a child’s life. Therefore, it is normal that parents can feel helpless and devastated because they cannot guarantee safety in the current situation. In such cases, parent support groups help. Many Internet resources with useful content for parents have been created, including the telegram channel “Support the Child”. The channel provides exercises created specifically for parents. Parents can also seek the support of a psychologist and choose a convenient form of working with him for free.

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