Do you know what the worst thing about a crisis is? It comes unexpectedly. One moment everything could be perfectly fine, and the next something happens completely out of the blue, and your life is turned upside down. It could be a bad break-up, a health scare, a natural disaster, the loss of your job, or an accident. The point is – you never know. The very thought of such an unexpected shake-up is enough to send many people spiraling into anxiety and panic. We fight so hard to keep everything under control every day; and then – a single event can bring all of our careful planning and organization crashing down. If you are facing a crisis, you might feel like you don’t even have the strength to get out of bed in the morning. However, no matter how bleak the situation might seem, people manage. They survive. How do they do it? Here are a few techniques that could save you.
1. Take one step at a time
When you feel rooted to the spot in shock, panic, grief, or uncertainty, it seems like there is just no way to move forward. All of your plans might seem meaningless; your goals – unattainable. The secret is to not think longterm at all. Why borrow worries from the future, as if you didn’t have enough already? Instead, focus, as narrowly as you can, just on the present moment. All you really need to think about at any given moment is only what you need to do right now. Do you need to brush your teeth? Go do that. Do you need to eat lunch? Then focus on that. Don’t dwell on the past, or worry about the future. If your crisis is about anticipation of things to come – for instance test results from your doctor – it might feel difficult to stop thinking about that moment. Many of us even ascribe a certain magical property to worrying – we feel that our worrying might protect us from bad things to come. Of course, on a conscious level, we know this is not true. It’s vital to remind ourselves that worry is not only useless, but also harmful. Time has an unfortunate habit of passing quickly when we dread something. Whatever it is, it will come soon enough. But not right now. Cross the bridge when you come to it.
2. Give yourself a break
One of the biggest mistakes people make when facing a crisis, is trying to be stoic and endure everything. Even very strong people crumble under the pressure. The truth is, this might be your burden, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry it all on your own. No one will think less of you if you ask for help. Rely on your friends and family to help you out. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Even small gestures can mean the world to people in crisis – a home cooked meal, when you’re not in the state to prepare it yourself. Someone to babysit, when you feel like you need a rest. Or maybe just someone to listen to you. Delegate as much as you need. Take a look at your schedule. Unburden it if you need time to breathe. Lower your expectations of yourself. Maybe your work performance won’t be stellar during this time. Or you won’t win spouse of the year. That’s okay. People around you understand, and you should understand too.
3. Acknowledge your feelings
In case of a crisis, the crucial step for your mental wellness, the healing process, and later recovery, is to acknowledge your feelings. Face what is happening head on, and allow yourself to feel the way you need to. Take all the time to really process and work through your emotions. Bottling up feelings of fear or pain can lead to later emotional issues. For most people, it helps to share. Even if no one can do anything to help you, it’s good to know you are not alone. You could share with your partner, a family member, a close friend, or even book a therapy session. You might be surprised at how cathartic it can feel to unburden. Releasing the weight is the first step to moving on. However, don’t fall into the trap of wallowing in self-pity. Frequent pity parties can be a setback on your road to recovery. When you are stuck pitying yourself, you are reliving all of that negativity over and over again, and reinforcing it in the process.
When you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, you might feel like it might never end. But rest assured: it will eventually. Be kind and patient with yourself. Meditate and exercise. Eat well. Reach out to people, or at least, let them reach out to you. You might not even notice the exact moment it happens, but slowly, you will find your way out of the dark.