How to cope with the mental exhaustion during the war

The body attempts to work at full capacity in any critical situation because of stress hormones. It is important to understand that these hormones have a conditional “shelf life,” with almost everyone going through this challenging period promoting incredible stress. Surely you’ve noticed a lot of emotional swings in your life when feelings change nearly every second. Anxiety, anger, a surge of optimism, then back to exhaustion, and finally a lot of fatigue from overworking. 

By reading this article, you will learn to control your emotions better. You will be able to help yourself and your loved ones through moments of crisis and become much happier. Let’s talk about everything in order. 

One of the main things that millions of Ukrainians are experiencing right now is overwork -exhaustion from sirens, explosions, news and communicating with loved ones.

The main ‘symptoms’ of overwork are:

It is a feeling of complete exhaustion and performing routine tasks feels incredibly difficult. Brushing your teeth seems like the most straightforward task but feels like a challenge instead. 

· Inattention. You make the wrong turn, cross the wrong street or get off at the wrong bus stop – even in your hometown. 

· Memory impairment. You cannot remember your own flat number. 

· You lose interest in your work and daily chores. Washing the dishes or making phone calls to your boss is already a daunting task that you have complete. 

· Nervousness and irritability increase day by day. 

· It becomes difficult to fall asleep. 

· You lose appetite and lack taste in food.

Do you have any of these symptoms? Then act urgently and correct the situation because overwork quickly leads to emotional emptiness, which it is much more challenging to solve.

How to fight overwork:

  • Get healthy sleep. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Yes, proper sleep is responsible for the rest that you need. 
  • Limit yourself from information “noise.” It’s become a habit in a state of war to constantly scroll through news feeds and keep up with everything constantly. Still, you’ll feel much better if you read the news on your own schedule – for example, 20 minutes at breakfast, 20 minutes at lunch, and 20 minutes in the evening. 
  • Eat regular and delicious meals. Don’t skip necessary meals, even if you don’t feel hungry. 
  • Try to bring physical activity into your life. Even a daily twenty-minute walk will make you feel more alert. 
  • Decide on your priorities. Realize and accept that no single person can do everything at once. Choose a couple of important tasks that will quickly pay off. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get something done. 
  • Keep a friendly relationship with your inner circle. Don’t shut yourself off from family, co-workers and friends. 
  • Don’t neglect physical contact with others. A mutual hug and a moment of holding hands can do wonders for you. 
  • Don’t think now is not the time for laughter and humor. Good jokes are heard even in the hottest of frontline locations. They are free medicine even in the worst of circumstances. 
  • Appreciate being alive and well. It’s an outstanding achievement right now. 
  • Don’t think about the date when the war is over. Yes, everyone wants a quick victory, but any unjustified predictions will only lead to despair. 
  • Try to remember what is important. What used to be the meaning of your life. Identify the three most important things for yourself and implement them in your reality today.

Panic is the worst kind of anxiety attack. It can paralyze a person and cause them to do reckless things. It is important to understand that all people behave differently during a panic attack. Some people want to run, and others want to huddle in a corner. But it’s important to recognize that your panic is the ideal state for your enemy. You are as vulnerable as possible, so you need to quickly get out of that state.

Panic symptoms:

  • Feelings of rapid heartbeat, increased pulse rate, and increased sweating. 
  • Hand tremors that are equivalent to having 3 cups of coffee. 
  • Chills coupled with angina. 
  • Shortness of breath, pain in the heart area, and shortness of breath in the chest. 
  • Dizziness and nausea. 
  • You feel alienated from the world. You are watching yourself from outside and have no control over your actions. 
  • Being in constant fear of doing an uncontrollable act and feeling like you may jump off a bridge or be thrown under a passing car.

How to deal with panic:

  • The first thing you need to do is calm down as quickly as possible. You can do this by using breathing techniques. For example, ‘3-6-8’. You breathe in slowly for 3 seconds, hold your breath for 6 seconds, and then slowly exhale for 8 seconds. 
  • Square breathing. Find any square object in the room, or imagine a square in your head. Fix your attention on the first corner, breathe deeply, hold your breath for 6 seconds, and shift your gaze to the next corner while breathing out. Do this four times around the square. This will restore your breathing and remove anxiety. 
  • Ground yourself. If you feel panic, sit or lie down, feel the weight of your body touching the surface, feel the weight of your own body and catch your breath. 
  • Self-massage. Pat your feet and massage your ears, face, and neck. 
  • Let your emotions out. Now is not the time to hide your tears and tantrums. Yell and sing. Allow the expression of what has accumulated inside you during the entire war. 
  • Buy citrus or peppermint fragrance oils. Not only are they soothing, but the pungent smell can bring you back to reality. Carry them around with you. 
  • Under no circumstances should you think about alcohol. It will only exacerbate the feeling of panic. 
  • If your loved one is in a panic state, wrap them in a blanket or plaid, give them warm water, and remind them of their name, where they are and who is near them. Monitor their breathing and breathe with them.

Panic and anxiety often turn into severe apathy. It doesn’t always last, but it needs to be worked through. It’s similar to a “bounce back” after a stressful experience.

How to overcome apathy:

  • At this stage, the main thing is to act. Do a couple of tasks and don’t try to analyze them. 
  • It is also vital to incorporate an obligatory daily routine into your schedule. You should eat regularly, maintain hygiene, do some exercise and do seemingly simple and ordinary activities that seem to be a challenge while experiencing apathy.

At this point, relationships with loved ones, in particular, are suffering right now. Above all, it is essential to realize that only a trusting relationship with them will increase your ability to resist and give your actions meaning.

How to maintain your relationship with your loved ones:

  • Try not to vent your negative emotions, of which there are many right now. Understand that it is not only you who feels bad now. Absolutely everyone around you has the same feelings. Therefore, it is better to concentrate all the negativity of your surroundings on the enemy. 
  • Keep in touch with each of them, especially if you are far away. Take an interest in their affairs and thoughts and try to help them. This will also benefit you. 
  • Keep or add everyday rituals in your close environment. This could include cooking together, laying the table together, watching a movie or reading a book together. By doing this as a group, everyone will benefit.

Another difficult thing that has been exacerbated by war is guilt. In ordinary life, we all have time to correct our mistakes and learn how to avoid them in the future. But in reality, it isn’t easy to work through them. It can have an incredibly negative effect on everyone. It suppresses one’s personality, but it can also “paralyze” them in life.

How to get rid of feelings of guilt:

  • It is important to remember that you did not start this war. 
  • Remember that if you are a civilian, your main job is to be safe. Your direct responsibility is to take care of yourself. 
  • Become useful. Ask yourself how your knowledge and skills can help benefit those around you.
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