The Trick To Managing Emotional Crisis Is To Have A Plan

Emotional crises come in all shapes and sizes. They can come from family issues, work stress, personal problems, and the big ones like death, divorce, and moving. Sometimes we see them coming, and sometimes we are caught off guard and knocked off our feet. Since I am an expert in emotional crises, I thought I might share a few of my favorite tips for how to manage when you can’t manage at all.

Emotional Crises Are Easier To Heal When You Have Practice

I’ve experienced the death of loved ones, divorce, family alienation, and a host of other emotionally disturbing events. The good news is, it’s given me experience to handle tough times. Now, I know what to do to stay mentally healthy, physically healthy, and keep my head above water. So, when I recently had two major life changes happen rather quickly, I had a team of people ready to support me, and 20+ years of recovery ready for action. Death and separation are unfortunately traumas I’ve already dealt with, so I knew what to do when they happened this time.

Here’s What I Did With Two Emotional Crises At The Same Time

  1. I told the team. I have two sponsors, a Buddhist mentor, a work mentor, a therapist I can call when I need to, a host of sober people who I can call any time, my family, and a few incredibly trustworthy friends. We don’t have to do hard things alone. When the team knew what was coming, they got to work. Both sponsors have supported me and given me the advice to follow, which I have. I talked to my therapist to process and received excellent instructions from her (those to come). I told my close friends and WOW did they show up. From invitations to dinner to comedy shows, to general caring, my girls have my back. Having this team of people gear up to show me love and support was the most poignant and profound part of the last few months. Create your team and keep them close. If you are super shy, and can’t ask for help, don’t worry. Follow tips 2-6. We’ll talk about making friends in another article. Move right on to tip #2.
  2. Brain Health. My therapist’s main advice was to focus on my brain health. It’s OK to have a sad moment and release a few tears but don’t stay there. I’ve done the trauma therapy, I’ve processed my childhood pain, I don’t need to live in despair anymore. I’ve done my time. Brain health means literally taking the actions that keep your brain functioning in a positive way. For me, that is being in nature, Buddhist chanting, exercise, yoga, reading, and other activities that help me ease my anxiety and release the feel good-hormones: Endorphins, Oxytocin, Serotonin in healthy ways listed above.
  3. Eat healthy. It’s so easy to lean into comfort food when we feel emotional pain, but don’t do it more than you need to. One of my sponsors reminded me to eat sensibly throughout this time. Adding tons of processed food into my body won’t make me feel better mentally or physically. Weight gain is also a big trigger for me. This is not the time to invite self-loathing into the equation.
  4. Self Care, Self Care, Self Care. I can only speak to what this looks like for me. If I need to take a nap in the middle of the day, I take a nap. If I need to stop working and take a walk, I do. If I’m not up to going to an event, I skip it. My comfort is the priority right now. Whether it’s spa time or being financially responsible, figure out what self care works for you and do it. Sometimes, it’s just watching a Hallmark Christmas movie in August.
  5. Radical Self Acceptance. I used to think that radical self-acceptance was silly. Now, I understand that it is its own version of self-care. When you already feel terrible, it’s not a good idea to let that negative inner voice reign in your head. This is the time to keep reminding yourself that you’re human and doing the best you can do. I remind myself that I’m learning and that everything happens for a reason.
  6. Sing and dance. Yes, sometimes I play awesome music and dance and sing. It doesn’t always work, but when it does I feel better. It’s like when they say smile and you may actually feel happier. Singing and dancing are happy, cathartic activities. Also, laugh. Laughing is a medicine, too.

Learn From Your Emotional Crises

The best thing that can come from tough times is to learn from them. Seeing that you can get through them is a phenomenal lesson, as is knowing that bad times and painful feelings do lessen with time. The key is to nurture yourself with everything good and not fall into a hole of despair where you aren’t able to care for yourself.

More Articles To Read

How To Ask For Help

Surviving Trauma

Habits of Emotionally Healthy People

Do You Have A Phone Addiction

Do You Know The Signs Of Emotionally Unavailable People

Tips To Cope With Stressful Life Events

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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