Mindfulness as a mindset
The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation tells the whole world about the fate of people from Donbass. To that end, the Museum of Civilian Voices was created, which has so far collected about 2,000 stories of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and internally displaced persons, and by 2025, the Foundation plans to document 100,000 stories. It is a source of true stories of Civilians told in the first person by people who have gone through the horrors of the armed conflict.
Psychologists who help people cope with the war trauma are involved in collecting stories for the Museum. Since 2014, more than 60,000 different-age residents of the east of the country have received psychological support from the Foundation. Olena Lukyanchuk is one of the Foundation’s psychologists who prepared a set of materials on psychological assistance. Let us present her professional viewpoint to you.
Today there is a lot of information about stress and how to deal with it. The very notion of fighting stress creates even more stress, because there is no rest in the fight. But this does not stop us. Every day we make ourselves sit in the lotus position in order to overcome stress. This is what magazines write, and this is what coaches and gurus share. You need to meditate, you need to discard all bad thoughts, you need to work on yourself, and even better – go in for sports.
You need to. Need. Need. Nobody writes honestly that all this also requires resources.
You come home from work, sit down at the table and realize that you have children, their home tasks, a dinner, a washing machine and here you are… Lotus position to calm yourself. After all this, you need to calm down, not get nervous, but overcome stress. At this very moment, stress gets even closer to the brain and you begin to understand that the lotus position is what you lack for complete stress.
In fact, one must understand that a person must have time resources and psychological resources for sports, meditation, and work. In other words, time and energy.
And stress cannot be overcome overnight. Stress is a full-fledged ally of our life. To one degree or another, it is always there. We need to choose, put up with, decide, restrain ourselves, keep pace, understand, sympathize, retain, move, spend, earn, etc., an absolutely infinite number of activities that require psychic energy.
It turns out that the most stress-free life can be just a lifestyle, and nothing more. That is, anti-stress is a regular, inconspicuous work woven from rituals, habits, and a change in lifestyle. Example:
- Sleeping. We all know that you need to sleep at least 7-8 hours, and fall asleep at one and the same time, because biologically we produce the sleep hormone – melatonin – at the same time. And in the experiment, where the mice did not sleep for a long time, they all died. Proven by life and mice. How about you? Is it difficult to go to bed at one and the same time? No. You just need to observe this discipline for two weeks. A human being is a creature of habits. A habit is developed during two weeks. Then, your eyes will be closing by themselves.
- Mindfulness. Sitting in lotus position every day is not mandatory. But to ask yourself the question “where am I and how do I feel?” once an hour – it is possible and necessary. What will it give you? First of all, the habit of paying attention to yourself and, over time, the ability to notice automatically when you are uncomfortable, and, accordingly, there will be a possibility to do something with this discomfort. Because in ordinary life, with its quick flow, we often do not notice when we are tired, hungry, angry and upset, and then, when it has accumulated in us, we explode. It is important to understand in time when you are uncomfortable, and to be able to decide what can be done about it.
- Food. Food is a biologically determined need. You need to eat when you feel hungry, and need to do it regularly and in small amounts. There are many studies on how healthy food nourishes the brain, and unhealthy food (fast food, fast carbohydrates, and high fat food), on the contrary, inhibits it and affects memory. Is it difficult? No. Yet again, if you adhere to a mindful approach and stick to it for two weeks.
- Physical exercise. Even the smallest exercise in the morning or fast walking accelerates blood circulation, makes the heart beat faster, strengthens blood vessels, stimulates blood circulation in the brain and the production of dopamine by our body system. And as you know, it is a hormone of happiness and natural anti-stress.
- Altruism. There are many studies that claim that by helping others we help ourselves in part, which adds more meaning to our lives, and a sense of significance and happiness to us.
- Hugs. Humans are social creatures. People need people. Communication with the near and dear ones supports our sense of self-inclusion and involvement in this world. Hugs also help us get oxytocin, which is a natural anti-stress and love hormone.
- Hobbies. Everyone needs their own world and their own joy. We are all children inside. We grow up and our “toys” grow up with us, but the essence remains the same. We need our own worlds where it would be interesting for us. It also adds sense and joy to us.
- Radical acceptance. This is the most magical pill for complete happiness. “It does not get me, I learned Zen...” this is of course a radical manifestation of acceptance, but still life is as it is. We should try to accept the rain as well as the sun, and pain as well as joy.
Is it difficult to combine all these fragments in your life? No. Will this lifestyle be an additional stress? Most likely, it will not be. Give it a try.
If the armed conflict has affected your life, you can also contact the Foundation’s psychologists for help by calling the hotline: 0800509001.
Your story should be known too! Tell it to the world! Follow the link https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/en/my-story and fill out a short questionnaire to make your input in the preservation of memory.