How to recover mentally after shelling: advice from a psychologist

Masha Foundation: how to recover from shelling - tipsIn May, Kyiv hardly slept because of constant nightly shelling. The situation is the same in many other regions of Ukraine. People get tired, work becomes more and more difficult, and it is unclear how to return to a normal mental state. But it is possible! Together with Kateryna Timakina, a psychologist and methodologist at the Masha Foundation’s Mental Health Center, which will soon open in Kyiv, we talk about the simplest techniques to recover from shelling and regain yourself. 

Masha Kateryna Timakina Foundation

Masha Kateryna Timakina Foundation

Yes, the last 15 months have been extremely difficult. Yes, the enemy’s goal is to deplete not only our air defense stockpiles, but also us. But  Ukrainians are an indomitable nation. And unbreakable people should be able to provide first aid, both physical and psychological. And to myself as well.

“You’ve all heard about self-help and stabilization techniques 100 times before. But the problem with using these exercises is that they don’t work if you don’t do them,” says psychologist Kateryna Timakina, . – So let’s do some breathing exercises and muscle relaxation now. And we will see that it works!”

Masha Foundation tips

Masha Foundation tips

Breathing 3×6 or 4×8

“When our body senses that we are in danger, it produces a hormonal cocktail. We are mobilized, our attention is scattered on the search for danger from the outside. And we won’t be able to put ourselves back together,  until these hormones are overworked,”  explains Kateryna Timakina. – What to do? To realize stressful energy and make the body feel that it is safe.”

The exercise is very simple: you need to inhale for 3 or 4 counts and exhale twice as long. For the best effect, to stop the whirlwind of thoughts, visualize each digit in front of your eyes. When we take a long exhalation, our brain receives a signal: everything is fine, the danger is over. And the nervous system relaxes.”

How to recover from shelling: muscle relaxation

If you don’t like breathing exercises (and that’s okay), keep an alternative. This exercise helps to reduce stress levels, ground yourself, and focus. Through muscle contraction, we release accumulated stress.

The exercise can be done lying down, sitting or standing.

Let’s start with the feet: feel the feet, the support, tense the feet by bending the toes, hold for a few seconds, relax. Repeat.

Now tense your feet, lifting your fingers up as much as possible, hold, relax. Repeat. Tighten your calves. Hold it, relax it.  Repeat.

Tighten the upper thigh, you can rest your heels on the floor to better feel the muscles. Hold it for a couple of seconds, relax. Repeat.

Tighten your buttocks. Feel yourself sitting up in a chair or on a bed. Hold it a little bit, relax it.

Tighten your abdominal muscles. Feel how strong they are, relax. Exhale with a sound.

The neck and shoulders are the first to react to stress. We instinctively protect our necks and try to hide. This is also called the startle reflex. To help yourself with this, do the following: lift your shoulders high, up to your ears, hold them, bend your elbows, keep your shoulders high, make fists, inhale and exhale, again, and again. Release your hands, inhale and exhale, relax your arms, shoulders still high, inhale and exhale, lower your shoulders sharply – you should feel the blood flow in your head resume.

And the last thing: tense all the muscles in your face, and then  relax. Repeat.

Smile at yourself, breathe in and out, and get back to life.

If you are a psychologist who wants to work, help women and children, and improve your skills as part of the Masha Foundation team, this link is for you. 

Photo: press service

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