We will all face many crisis situations in our lives, for which we will have little to no preparation, so having a few tips to help you cope with crisis just makes sense. I should know, I’ve been through many crisis situations in my lifetime. Most of which I went into completely unprepared and found myself overwhelmed, stressed to the max, and barely holding on. Only to get to the other side and find that I was swimming in chaos with a long list of things that had been neglected and were now creating extreme urgency (cue more stress). As I’m sorting through the latest crisis, this time a very ill and very close family member I find myself looking for ways to lighten the load. Here are the 5 things I’m doing to help me keep my head above water while coping with crisis.
1. Lean in
We tend to undervalue our support systems and especially when going through the tough stuff. But they are essential in helping us cope with crisis. Don’t have a support system? Well, there’s no time like the present to find one. And if you’re currently in crisis this may be a test of fire. It’s time to start reaching out to the people in your life and get support. From those who are directly connected to the situation you can receive validation and share some of the work involved. You can commiserate and brainstorm solutions. And from those not directly involved you can seek assistance with managing your real life. In addition, you can find emotional support from people who aren’t in their own feelings about the situation.
2. Create Clarity
Maybe you typically volunteer at your kids school or cook a homemade meal every night. Yeah, if you’re coping with crisis that’s not likely to happen. Figure out what’s really essential to keep your life running and what can be postponed or better yet eliminated. It’s ok to eat on the run, skip your workouts, or let your house get messy. But there are a few things that will become urgent or worse yet an emergency if they don’t get done. Things like diagnostic and preventative doctors appointment, paying bills, and yes, getting rest. While creating clarity is best done before the crisis occurs, it can also be done in the midst of crisis. Ask yourself these questions.
- Can someone else do this?
- If this doesn’t get done what are the consequences?
- What is the bare minimum I can do here and get away with it?
Now, go buy some paper plates, ask your friends to set up a meal train, hire a laundry service and housekeeper (if you can) and go get some rest… no one can do that part for you.
3. Share the Load
It’s relatively rare that a crisis effects us alone. To best cope with crisis it’s important to share the load. That may mean asking for help or advice from your support team or other family members. And it might be sharing some of the decision making and crisis tasks. But it can also mean consulting professionals and hiring people to help. In most cases you can’t manage a crisis all on your own and you shouldn’t. Humans are pack animals and nothing proves this truth more than when we’re facing something really stressful and tough. I understand that you may feel like it’s completely up to you to care for your newborn, navigate your diagnosis, or care for your aging parent or child struggling with mental illness. But it’s not. Utilize the services that are available to you. Don’t know what they are? Ask someone in your crew to do some research for you or crowd source on social media.
4. Let Go
I know it might feel like you should be able to fix whatever is causing the crisis in your life but that isn’t true. You can’t do it all. Some things will fall by the wayside and others will need to be picked up by someone else. Coping with crisis provides us the opportunity to practice the art of letting go. And spoiler alert there are things you might never pick up again after this because crisis has a way of putting a spotlight on what really matters.
One of the things that makes it far more difficult to cope with crisis is the desire to control things. And when we’re in crisis we instinctively grab for even more control and it is harder to grab hold of. I know it feels like if you could just do everything right and perfectly and control everything that it will all turn out just right but spoiler alert, it won’t. Let go of the illusion of control.
5. Nurture Yourself
This is the one we all forget, myself included. The better we care for ourselves the better we are able to cope with crisis. This means getting as much rest as possible, eating well, and prioritizing some down time. And it also means reducing negative inputs. As tempted as you may be to google every possible outcome or get into an argument with your annoying neighbor, you’ll be better off binging some Netflix or taking a bath.
If you’re going through a crisis I just want to remind you that you matter here. And taking care of yourself is essential. I know it can feel selfish, and the overwhelming busyness of the situation cause you to feel like you’re never doing enough. You are… you are enough… and you deserve care through this challenging time too!