Coping With Life: 5 Tips For Surviving A Crisis

On , In Soul
A couple holding hands as they lean on each other during a crisis.

Crises affect our ability to manage.

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, 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, or your boss asking you to stay at work late for the third time this week. Crises can also be major life events, like illness, relationship breakdown, or death. Regardless of the source of distress, crises can take a toll on our emotions and our ability to manage.

If you experience a crisis, the best thing you can do is to try to get through it without making things worse for yourself or others. When people feel distressed, they are more likely to act impulsively or react, to withdraw and isolate, or cope with substances, food or other behaviours that temporarily alleviate stress or numb pain. However, when you do not cope effectively with distress, you can inadvertently create more crises for yourself by making things worse or more unmanageable. If you’re going through a challenging time, consider Clinical Counselling to support you. In the meantime, here are five tips for coping with a crisis.

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

1. Take 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. Sooth your system.

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 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 your reality.

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.

Reach out & ask for help.

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. 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 now accepting new clients.

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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