Can You Handle a Crisis?

There are no right or wrong answers to this question. Our minds are equipped with tools to help us handle a crisis when it arises. Crises come in all areas of life from family, workplace, school, natural disaster, crime, transportation, mental and physical health, and so forth. Some people will handle a crisis better than another. There is no judgement here. Our society employs professionals trained in crisis management: police, firefighters, therapists, EMTs, to name a few. There’s training in Critical Incident Stress Management, which helps people in an organization setting deal with a critical incident.

Anticipating a crisis can happen in some situations, but for the most part we never know when one is going to hit us. The steps you take to handle a crisis depend on its nature and scope. Here are some ideas for how to help yourself handle a crisis. Be gentle with yourself and keep breathing as you let the impact of the crisis sink in. With an immediate crises you may have to react in the moment—controlling your breathing is still doable. The point of breathing (slowing it down) is to calm your nervous system, so you can make clear decisions. In crises the mind has a tendency to fly all over the place trying to find solutions.

A crisis can go on for days and weeks. If this is the case, try to seek out some quiet time for yourself, even five minutes can help you stay connected to yourself. Learning to accept what you can’t change takes practice and patience. Acceptance in the end or beginning of a crisis will aid your healing and recovery.

Our society basically rejects the need for grief. Corporations give three days leave of absence for the death of an immediate family member. Giving yourself enough time to grieve will help you process the loss. Prayer or having faith in a higher power helps to manage the mind-body connection, and gives you permission to let go of control. Letting go of control can alleviate the pressure that can build up in your body and cause stress. Letting go is letting go—you can’t change the outcome.

Maybe you don’t think you handled a crisis very well. It doesn’t matter. You are human—you did the best you could given the circumstances. Most of all, try not to isolate, talk to good listeners and be kind to yourself.  

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