If we want to embrace life, we also have to embrace chaos. – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
A crisis is like a lightning bolt.
It’s undiscriminating, with the ability to strike any area of our lives.
It’s unpredictable, descending on us often when we least expect it.
And, contrary to popular belief, it can strike the same place twice.
Dragging Up What’s been Buried
Dealing with a crisis is never easy. Difficult decisions must often be made in the midst of a life-changing situation, and emotions inevitably run high. There’s no ‘right’ way to navigate through a crisis – we each have to find the path that works best for us.
When faced with adversary, many people find it frighteningly easy to slip into a negative mindset. If approached in the wrong way, a crisis can drag up all of the thoughts and feelings we usually keep buried, eventually leading to depression.
Unfortunately, there is no catch-all approach to dealing with stress and trauma. However, there are some healthy approaches which can help you to develop your own coping strategy:
Accept the crisis. You can’t change the crisis, but you can control your reaction to the aftermath. Hiding will only intensify your negative emotions – accept the situation, and begin to deal with it.
Envisage a challenge. We call cancer a ‘fight’ for a reason – crises become easier to deal with if we see them as battles. Embrace your own crisis as a challenge to be overcome.
Take care of yourself. If you’re helping a loved one navigate a crisis, it can be easy to neglect yourself. This is counter-productive – you can only be helpful if you’re both physically and mentally well yourself.
Acknowledge your feelings. It’s natural to experience a whole host of conflicting feelings – both good and bad – during a crisis. However, if you feel as though negative emotions are starting to control your life, it’s time to seek help.
Be kind to yourself. Feeling overwhelmed is normal, and you don’t need to be perfect all the time. Nobody else will judge you for having a bad day – so don’t judge yourself.
Share the load. When dealing with a crisis, it can feel as though you have the weight of the whole world resting on your shoulders. If it becomes too much to bear, ask your loved ones for help. If they were in trouble, you’d be there in an instant – let them do the same for you.
Take a break. A crisis can completely absorb you, draining you of energy and leading you towards depression. It’s important to take a break every now and then. Do something you enjoy with a friend or a loved one, and try not to spend the whole time talking about your problems.
Recognize your limitations. You can’t fix everything – so don’t try to. Focus on the things you can mend, and don’t let yourself grow frustrated with things that are out of your control.
Some needed insurance
A crisis can strike at any time, often with no warning.
Many people don’t have a crisis-management strategy in place, and find themselves struggling to cope with the unexpected. Insure yourself against future disaster, and take the time to develop some healthy coping strategies now:
Build a support network. When times are hard, your family and friends can make all the difference. Care for the people in your life now, and they’ll return the favour when you need a helping hand.
Learn to meditate. Meditation can relieve stress, provide clarity of thought, and strengthen your mental ability to remain calm in the face of a crisis.
Help others in need. If someone close to you is facing a personal tragedy, you should always provide them with support. Not only is it the right thing to do, it also allows you to familiarise yourself with the different emotions and behaviours which can surface during a crisis.
We are … the sum of our memories and experiences. – Michael Scott
Our memories and experiences influence and guide us. This includes both positive and negative events – don’t let your grief define you.
Similarly, never measure yourself against others. Each person deals with stressful situations in their own way, and the important thing is to find what works for you.
No one saves us but ourselves … We ourselves must walk the path. – Buddha
When you’re in the eye of the storm, it can feel like your world is ending – but you will never be faced with more than you can deal with. When facing adversary, draw on your memories of better times for strength. Take heart – one day, you will find peace again.