“A calm mind finds clarity in the face of adversity”
There are so many great ways to cope with everyday disappointments, annoyances, stressors, and whatever else the day, week or even the entire month throws at you. After all, you control how you react to the “small stuff” and it’s all “small stuff”, right?”
Most of the time, things that cause us stress are little in the grand scheme of life and reducing their power over us is one substantial way to keep our stress in check, and stay balanced and happy.
But what do we do when it isn’t little stuff? What if the really bad, horrible, awful thing that happened today really is that bad? Our normal coping mechanisms and mantras might not be enough, and this is when we need to know how to cope with the “big stuff”, whether it’s the death of a loved one, a disaster that is more than a mere inconvenience, or an outright catastrophe. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call the “big things” a crisis. So, here are 9 little things you can do help you cope in a crisis.
Sometimes, the simplest thing is the most important thing. When you suddenly find yourself in a crisis, or if the “worst case scenario” rears its ugly head at the worst time, start by taking a minute to take a deep breath. Unless the situation is life or death, taking a few moments (or even several minutes) to breathe and let everything sink in will not change the outcome negatively. What it will do is give you a few moments to gather yourself, and a chance to act rather just react.
2. Don’t let others rush you
Some people need to react in a crisis, and if that’s how they thrive, more power to them. But, if you need more than a few seconds to absorb bad news or let a situation sink in before you respond, don’t let people try to impose their personal timeline on you. A true, natural leader will meet you where you’re at, even if in that moment where you’re at is dumbfounded, speechless, or numb. Anyone who is trying to rush you through how you process things is trying to control the situation by controlling you, and that doesn’t help anyone. Step away if you need to, or whatever way you need to remove yourself from the situation until you are ready to deal with it, feel free to do. Even the worst crises are usually not life or death, so don’t be afraid to tell someone that you need some time to figure out what you’re going to do.
3. Focus on what you can control
Often our first impression in a crisis is that everything is out of our control. That feeling of spiraling is what makes us freeze up and causes that overwhelming feeling of dread or despair. There are times when those feelings are going to happen no matter what you do, but when you stop and breathe, you will start to see little things that you can control. It might only be one of two things at first, but even if they’re rather small, taking care of anything you can control, then moving onto the next action will boost your confidence and make you feel like you can handle things. That feeling of confidence manifests itself into bold, assured actions, which can help you take hold of a crisis situation. Once you have a bit of control, you can start to
4. Prioritize your actions
When something big happens, there can be several steps required to get it sorted out before things are back to normal. It’s important to take a moment to figure out what you need to do, then figure out which action needs to happen first, and next, etc. Depending on the situation, there are two ways you can approach problems. If you’re someone who is motivated and encouraged by little successes, the snowball method will work best. Put simply, start with the easiest (or smallest) action, and as you complete each one, let those successes drive your momentum and propel you to the finish line. If you find that you’re the opposite, start with the hardest (or largest) action and let the relief of getting something huge out of the way inspire you on your way. By the time you’re nearly done with your list, only simple actions will be left, and they’ll feel like a breeze.
5. Utilize your support system
By now, you should have a good idea of how you’re going to resolve your crisis, and you might have even started the process. But some problems are much bigger than we are, even when we’re pushing through and taking care of what we can. Remember you are not alone, and if someone asks what they can do to help, give them the opportunity to help you. A lot of loved ones feel helpless when outside a crisis situation, so answering honestly when they ask what they can do instead of putting on a brave face and denying you need help can be helpful for both you and them. Letting people who love you take on some of your burden really is a win-win.
6. Breathe some more
Once we get through the initial shock of what has happened (often to us when it’s something big), it’s easy to forget to take breaks throughout your process and breathe. You need to recharge often, even when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t want to lose steam before the finish line, so make sure to stop, breathe and take stock of the situation as often as needed, and redirect if you find a better way in the process.
7. Get plenty of rest
This isn’t just about sleeping, but this can be one of the hardest things to remember. You must take care of yourself before you can help anyone or conquer an intense situation. It’s not an act of selfishness, but an act of commonsense. Just like we are instructed on an airplane to put our own oxygen masks on before helping others, including children, you are not at your best unless you are rested and have your basic needs met. So, make sure to take care of yourself first.
8. Remember that your best is good enough
There are going to be times when an external (or internal) influence is making it clear that we are not enough. Not everyone is perfectly suited for every situation, and that’s okay. If you find that you’re feeling like your best is not good enough, it’s time to reevaluate if you’re using the steps above. Have you prioritized your actions? Have you reached out for assistance? Are you taking care of yourself so you can put your best effort in? If all those things are covered, it may be time to consider that a situation/friendship/relationship etc. isn’t the right fit for you, and that’s okay. If the crisis is something you can’t just walk away from, give yourself some grace to flow through a situation the best way you know how, and understand that even if you aren’t handling things in the best way possible, you’re doing your best and that is enough.
9. This too shall pass
This phrase can be annoyingly trite, but it’s often true. No matter what is happening, even if it’s a devastating loss of a loved one, you will be okay. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but time really does heal our wounds. And difficult times don’t last forever. They can’t. So, if things seem like they’re dragging on and you’re never going to get through, remind yourself that nothing is forever, and don’t let the crisis drag you down and make you lose hope.
The biggest takeaway from all this is not matter what happens to you, you can get through it. You have survived 100% of what life has thrown at you thus far, and you are capable of taking a difficult situation and finding the light on the other side. You can do this!