Crisis comes into all lives. You’ve faced quite a few in your life, right?
And a key element to most crisis is that while we know it will eventually get better, we don’t always know when it will get better. Some kinds of crisis will hit us all equally hard, no matter who you are, how much you earn, how rock-solid your life feels, crises are inevitable.
But the way you respond to these crises is optional. But many of those options are shaped by one particularly important thing: Your mental health and vitality.
Staying strong during a crisis is key to getting through tough times. There are a few things you can do to exercise your mental and emotional health and keep them in good shape.
Don't worry about building strength right now
Trying to build mental strength in the midst of a crisis is like lifting weights right before you try to pick up a heavy box. It's not the time to worry about strength building—it's time to put the strength you already have into action. You’ve got a lot more than you give yourself credit for.
When faced with bad news, it's easy to waste a lot of time thinking things like this can't be happening, or this shouldn't be happening to me. But this isn't the time to waste your vital resources worrying about fairness.
Accept the situation. That doesn't mean you have to agree with what's going on, but it does mean that you're willing to acknowledge reality. Only then can you take positive action and direct toward what is really impacting your life and where it is needed most.
Seek out support from your fellow travelers
Talk to your friends. Ask for help from a professional. Reach out to your loved ones. Get creative with how you do this. We conducted an online Parent Support Group meeting last night, and the response was so great, we are going to keep doing them. I have a cousin in California who is going to do her Bible study online. Many Churches are following suit. Whatever you do, make sure you that you ask questions, tell people what you need, and get the emotional support that could assist you. Find a way to get your virtual hugs. Relationships and support are like vitamins for your emotional health. Get some, some way, every day, as needed.
As difficult as it may be to eat and sleep, it's important to take care of your body when you're in the midst of a crisis. Go for a few short walks when you can or long walks too, make healthy eating choices a priority even when you're pressed for time, and rest your body and your mind. Take time for prayer and meditation. A clear mind is a mind on the mend.
Create a helpful mantra
This is one of my favorites. Develop an affirmation, like "I've survived tough times before I will get through this too," or “The Universe is on our side, and so is everything else.” My current one is “Everything is as it should be.” and repeat it to yourself as needed. It can help drown out the negative thoughts that are bound to swirl in your mind, and it can keep you on track so you can move forward.
Prioritize what needs to get done
When you're in the middle of a crisis, you're going to likely need to give some things up so you can focus your energy on the task at hand. Create a to-do list that will help you prioritize what needs to get done. And write things down, as your memory is sure to fail at times when your stress level is high.
Find time to experience your emotions
While you don't want to suppress your emotions forever, there are also times you need to regulate your feelings so you can be productive. Crying at some times makes you forget what you needed to ask. Similarly, allowing fear to take hold might prevent you from taking action.
At times, you may need to move forward quickly, with little time to really even think about how you're feeling. That's OK when you're in an acute crisis. You also might want to present an air of calm and strength to your family. But just make sure you set aside time later to let yourself experience painful feelings, it's a crucial part of healing emotional wounds.
Take small steps
A crisis can make you feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to change, accomplish, or solve. Break down those big tasks into small steps. We can add stress to ourselve by taking on too much just because we think we have time on our hands.
Do something that helps you keep a sense of normalcy
Right now, you might feel like the entire world is upside-down. You’re homeschooling, working from home, cooking every meal...
Doing one thing that helps you feel "normal" might help you stay mentally stronger. Watch your favorite show before you fall asleep. Go for a walk or run in the morning, like you always did before the crisis. Order pizza for Friday night. Whatever it is, look for one shred of normalcy that you can continue even when life feels anything but normal.