One of the best skills we can learn is how to cope with crisis.
Karen was thrown into crisis mode when her husband was hospitalized and diagnosed with covid19. Suddenly, her world turned upside down and she was faced with shifting priorities and a new reality. Mary’s husband announced her was leaving her for some else after 25 years of marriage. Diana got 30 days notice that she was being let go after 15 years of working in her “stable” job. All these women had to learn how to cope with crisis.
A personal crisis can look differently for different people. You may be experiencing an unexpected divorce, the diagnosis of a chronic illness, job loss, the death of a loved one, or losing your home to foreclosure. These moments can leave you feeling scared, overwhelmed, or angry.
While there’s no magic wand that can be waved to restore your ‘normal’, there are certain things that can be helpful to remember when you’re facing a crisis…
Acknowledge Your Pain
Some people try to get through a crisis by stuffing down the pain. You may do this, too. Perhaps you ignore the emotions you’re feeling, burying them deep within yourself. Or maybe you cover them by engaging in self-destructive habits such as binge eating, self-medicating, engaging in retail therapy, or numbing yourself with alcohol.
But while these habits temporarily make you feel better, they can worsen your problems in the long-term. In fact, they may even prolong a crisis situation for you, creating a bigger mess for you to clean up. There is a much better way if you are willing to learn how to cope with crisis.
Instead of trying to quiet the pain, acknowledge it. Allow yourself to experience your feelings without judgement. That may mean taking time by yourself to cry, scream, curse, pray, or yell. It’s better to find an outlet for these deep emotions than to experience the frustration of having them “pop up” when you least expect it.
Learn How to Cope With Crisis by Being Kind to Yourself
Being kind to yourself is an important part of getting through a crisis. During a crisis, you may be tempted to be harder on yourself than usual. For example, you may berate yourself if you forget important project or task.
You might find it difficult to concentrate and focus as you normally would. You may have difficulty with simple tasks that normally don’t take you a lot of time or that don’t typically challenge you.
In these circumstances, it can be tempting to berate yourself or let these moments affect your self-esteem. But during a crisis, it’s essential to remember that it’s important to be kind to yourself and to speak lovingly to yourself.
Remind yourself that you are talented and smart. Talk about how what you’re going through is temporary and believe you will come out stronger on the other side of your current crisis.
Embrace Routines that Comfort You
During a crisis, try to hang on to routines that you personally find comforting. For example, if you always walk your dog in the evening and find that soothes you, then continue to do it.
With all the doubts and the fears that can come during the crisis, it’s essential to embrace routines that comfort you. They can help you concentrate, find your flow, and give you a feeling of control in the middle of all the chaos.
Cling to Your Support People
There are certain people in your life during a crisis that can be vital and necessary to help you make it through the rough patch in your life. These people may be friends, family, or even members of your community that have wrapped their arms around you. Learning how to cope with crisis includes identifying and tapping into your support network.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know when you need something. For example, you could reach out to a friend when you’re having a bad evening, just to call and chat. You could meet up with a family member for coffee after a particularly difficult day making decisions about end-of-life care for your aging parent.
You could also join this online support group to connect with other women who are transforming crisis, obstacles and set-back into personal power.
Escape for a Few Minutes
Spend a few minutes each day consuming content that allows you a brief mental escape from your current situation. This content could be any form that you like. It could be adult coloring.
It could be your favorite television show (Golden Girls reruns in my case), or it could be a soundtrack that always lights you up and makes you feel good about yourself.
When you do this, you’re giving yourself a mini break from what you’re dealing with. However, it’s best if this content is not related to what you’re going through.
So for instance, if you’re caring for an aging parent that has Alzheimer’s disease, then a TV show featuring a plotline about dementia could be triggering and may make you feel worse. So, carefully consider the kind of content before you choose it.
Remind Yourself of Your Strength
What you’re going through now may feel like the worst thing you’ve ever encountered. That’s a valid feeling and your emotions aren’t right or wrong.
But if you lean into negative feelings and give them value, you may collapse under the weight of your crisis. You don’t want to do that.
When you start feeling that this is the worst moment of your life, remind yourself of your strength. Try to look back at your life and see where you were strong. These are moments when you can take back your power and your control.
Perhaps you left an abusive marriage in your past. Maybe you walked away from a job that wasn’t a great fit. Or perhaps you moved to a new city, even when all your friends and family were against it.
Tell yourself that you are strong, and you have come through worse. You will get through this, even though things are difficult in this moment. Tapping into your inner-strength is a must when figuring out how to cope with crisis.
It’s harder to manage your life during a crisis. Some things will fall between the cracks and you may find yourself easily forgetful. You may also not be able to do everything you’re normally capable of doing.
For example, if your child was just diagnosed with a serious illness, you may temporarily step back from some of your responsibilities at work. You might say “no” to some community commitments you normally enjoy.
Forgive yourself for the things that you can’t do right now. Release them and be kind to yourself during this time. Learning how to cope with crisis means coming to terms with your “new reality” so that you can gain the inner-peace and clarity you need to see the “new opportunities”.
Let Go of Old Expectations
Things will be different in the middle of a crisis. Even after a crisis, sometimes things are never the same again and this might hurt. For example, if you suddenly lose your spouse, obviously, celebrating anniversaries or other events will never be quite the same.
If you face a foreclosure, your old routines may be disrupted. You may not be able to participate in your normal neighborhood activities and this can be painful. Understand that it’s normal to experience pain with shifting traditions. But at the same time, it’s important you allow yourself the space and the grace to embrace new things.
This could mean starting new traditions now that your spouse is gone. If your home has been foreclosed and you’re no longer in the same neighborhood with the same friends, it could mean investing in a new community. It’s all part of the learning experience of how to cope with crisis and come out stronger.
It’s OK to Feel Shattered
During a crisis, you might feel broken and alone. These feelings are completely normal and understandable. But it’s important you don’t get hung up on these emotions and listen to them.
Believe that right now you are loved by the universe. Feel that energy and that vibration surrounding you. You already have everything in you needed to fight this battle. You will rise up again and overcome these dark days because you are an incredible warrior.