5 Tips for Surviving a Crisis

On , In Soul


We all have times in our life when we experience distress. Events, often out of our control, can cause us minor emotional discomfort or immense pain and suffering. Crises can come unexpectedly and often cannot be fixed in the moment, or even if they are fixable, we might feel too overwhelmed to problem solve effectively. Crises can be small, relatively minor annoyances like being stuck in traffic, your toddler refusing to put her shoes on, your boss asking you to stay at work late for the third time this week; or crises can be major, painful life events, such as an illness, relationship breakdown, or a death.  Regardless of the source of distress, crises can take a tole on our emotions and ability to manage. 

When we experience a crisis, the best thing we can do is try to get through without making things worse for ourselves or others. When we feel distressed, we are more likely to act impulsively, to react, to withdraw and isolate, or cope with substances, food or other behaviors that temporarily alleviate our stress or numb our pain. When we do not cope effectively with our distress, we can inadvertently create more crises for ourselves, essentially making things worse and more unmanageable. Consider Clinical Counselling to support you through these struggles. In the meantime…

5 Strategies to use right now when faced with a crisis:

  1. Breathe: Take some long deep breaths. Breathing helps to calm the system, slow things down, and regulate emotions. Breathing also helps to activate the thinking, logical part of the brain that can help us to problem solve the situation and decide how to respond effectively.
  2. Find some ways to relax and soothe your system: Notice and relax tension in your body. Soothe your senses by taking a warm bath, smelling aromatherapy, taking-in beautiful scenery, or listening to music. Nurture your body.
  3. Distract from your distress: Get your mind off of what is distressing. Engage in activities that captivate your mind, such as sports, coffee with friends, dancing, playing a game. 
  4. Improve your thinking: Find meaning in your pain; appreciate what you do have, how well you are coping, how resilient you can be; remind yourself this pain will not last forever, there will be times you will feel differently. Encourage yourself, be your own cheerleader or talk to yourself like you would your best friend. You got this!
  5. Accept reality as it is: Understand what is in your control and accept and let go of what you cannot change. Refusing to accept reality is the source of a lot of suffering. Watch out for thoughts like “things shouldn’t be this way”, “I don’t want this”. These kinds of thoughts can add more pain to already painful events. Instead say to yourself, “things are as they are”. Reach out for support when the reality you are facing is really hard.

Crisis survival tools can help us tolerate daily stresses, as well as really painful experiences in our life. The better we cope, the more capable and in control we feel, and the more manageable our lives. 

If you or someone you know is overwhelmed with a current crisis or struggling through a difficult situation, we are here to help. This blog is courtesy of our Registered Clinical Counsellor, Tara Irwin, who is accepting new clients. Scroll down this page to learn more about Tara.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. ~ Haruki Murakami

*These crisis survival tools are adapted from Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT® skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press

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