Life spins out of control from time-to-time. For some of us crises happen more often than for others. So when circumstances are beyond your control what do you do? Do you throw up your hands in defeat or do you look for tips on how to cope with a life-crisis?
Unfortunately, I have a lot of practice at this. When the first family crisis struck I tossed my career and personal plans out of the window and focused solely on managing the crisis. How did that work out? Not so well. Oh, the family crisis passed, but my needs and goals were set aside for a lengthy period of time. Next crisis, I did a little better. I’m working on improving more. Here are seven tips on how can you learn to handle the chaos that comes as a result of a life-crisis.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
Understand that you’re under a lot of stress. When the stress mounts out bodies go into shock and our brain into overwhelm. This is inevitable. It happens to us all. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself a self-defined period of time to be in shock. Comfort yourself the best that you can and give yourself support as if you are your own best friend.
2. Honor Your Feelings
Give yourself a specific window of time during which you can feel your feelings. Often, in a situation that is out of our control, we stuff or hide our feelings. But doing that is neither healthy nor respectful. Talk with a trusted friend, journal, find a private place to scream or cry. Be angry, frightened, resentful, grief-stricken, frustrated. Whatever they are, your feelings are valid. Your life has been upended by something you didn’t choose.
3. Care for Yourself
Be sure you are safe. Get enough to eat and drink. Get enough sleep. Take walks or exercise. Find ways to remind yourself that you are stronger than you feel at the moment and that you are able to deal with this crisis. Seek medical or psychological help if you need it.
How do you know if you need help? If you don’t have the expertise to make an informed decision, find an expert. You may lack the resources to manage the crisis. Or you may question your own strength or be overwhelmed with out-of-control feelings. Watch out for unhealthy coping behaviors like sleeping too much, eating too much, or drinking (alcohol) too much. Asking for help is being kind to yourself, taking care of yourself.
4. Change Your Focus
In a crisis, we often focus on the negative. Not that any crisis is a positive thing, but change your focus from the negative to the more positive. If you’re thinking in terms of ‘because of x I can’t . . .” Figure out what your choices are. Rephrase the situation, ‘Given x, I can do this or this.”
5. Unpack Old Baggage
If the situation is repeatedly causing our life to spin out of control, it’s common to rehash previous episodes and pack on the resentment and anger. That does you more harm than good. No one can change the past. Give yourself permission to let it go. If those visits to the past are uncontrollable, you may want to consider talking to a professional.
6. Have a Stress Management Plan
Make time for stress relief. Do at least one thing you enjoy whether that’s yoga, or lunch with friends, or reading, or a hobby. Accept help from a friend or family member so you can step away for a few minutes.
7. Be Present
In a crisis, we tend to get tunnel vision to the point that only the crisis exists. If you project this crisis into the future or you sit with old baggage of past crisis, you won’t have the headspace to deal with the present. Clear your head of those things. Take a deep breath. Be present and deal with what is happening right now. You’ll feel calmer, see more choices, and make better decisions.
Coping with Crisis, Chaos, or Trauma
More than 75% of us have at least one time of chaos, life-crisis, or trauma in our lives. How to cope with a life-crisis is a set of skills we all need. And with the right mindset and skills, you can survive the crisis. Give yourself the gift of these skills. I know they come in handy for me. If you wish to learn more, see my list of resources in the comments. If you have additional skills or tips, please share.