A crisis is an event that overwhelms your ability to cope. So, the best way to reduce emotional crises is to increase your baseline level of functioning and increase the number and mastery of your skills.
How do you know you are having an emotional crisis? Here are some signs:
- physical symptoms like headache, crying, pain, fatigue, stomach upset, loss of appetite
- emotional symptoms like apathy, anxiety, mood swings, irritability
- behavioral signs like inability to concentrate, loss of motivation, impatience, social isolation, risk taking behaviors, attention seeking, self harm behaviors
- cognitive signs like paranoia, self-doubt, self blame, indecisiveness, unfocused thinking
How to Increase Your Baseline Level of Functioning
Good daily self-care will help to keep your mind and body balanced. This can greatly reduce emotional crises by keeping you from becoming overwhelmed in the first place. When your body is functioning well, it has the energy to respond to events without going into overwhelm. This is always going to be your first and best line of defense.
How do you manage this? Meditate daily. This doesn’t have to mean sitting cross legged and emptying your mind of all thoughts. It could be breathing, doing a guided imagery meditation, practicing yoga, tai chi or qigong.
Exercise mildly daily. The body needs to move. Sitting is deadly. Movement promotes healthy functioning. Too much and too little creates problems.
Eat a healthy diet. So many people tell me they eat healthy meals, but when they tell me what they are eating, it’s not really healthy at all. Packaged foods, extreme diets, artificial colors, artificial flavors, sugar (natural and artificial), and chemical preservatives are not healthy foods. Healthy foods are on the outside aisles of the grocery store. They are meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and dairy products. Organic and naturally grown (meaning free ranging, grass fed (for animals that eat grass), no hormones, no pesticides, etc) are always going to be healthier options. If your food is lasting more than a few days in the refrigerator or cabinet, it’s not fresh.
Sleep eight hours a night. A lot of people say they “get by just fine” with less. That’s a coping strategy. Every body is different, but the human animal is not designed to maintain health with fewer than seven hours of restful sleep per night. The brain requires that for functioning. The detoxification organs need it to keep the body healthy. Don’t kid yourself. If you have learned to adapt to less sleep, it doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need as much.
Spirituality is another must. Humans are mind, body, and spirit. We need to feel connected to each other and the rest of creation. When we aren’t, we are lonely and depressed. I am not saying you have to be religious or that you have to practice a specific religion. I am saying that having a sense of connection to something other than yourself will reduce emotional overwhelm.
What Skills Do You Need?
What skills do you need to develop and mastery? There are tons. You will need strategies for what to do when you are in the midst of crisis. These are things that you do to calm down, get centered, and keep you from creating any damage for yourself or others.
You also need skills for dealing with the emotional roller coaster that can come before and after the full blown crisis. These help you to stay centered and feel your feelings without pushing them away, blowing them up, or dismissing them. Pushing them away or minimizing them can make things worse in the long run.
Everyone can also use skills in dealing with other people – especially people who are not exactly easy to get along with. Many of our emotional crises arise out of relational issues, so negotiating relationships well will greatly reduce the number of crises we find ourselves in.
If you find yourself dealing with crises often, it’s not because your life is horrible, you’re a bad person, or people hate you. It’s probably because your self care routine needs adjustment or you need to grow your skill repertoire or mastery. There is nothing wrong or shameful about this. Hopefully we all are growing every day of our lives. It’s how we make life meaningful. However, when you are not spending your time dealing with crises, you can be growing in your career, relationships, creativity, spirituality, financially, or in something else. So, why not invest in improving your baseline level of functioning so that crises are minimal?
If you need help with this, contact me. I’d be glad to assist.