HOW A CRISIS DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE
A crisis often affects every area of your life, even if you don't realize it at the time. This includes things like your sleep, eating habits, drinking habits, your relationships, career, and your marriage. Some recovering alcoholics or drug addicts may lose their sobriety during a crisis.
You may recognize that you are experiencing some of these disruptions in your life, but you might not be experiencing all of them. You could also experience different disruptions at different times depending on the crisis.
You might find yourself sleeping less as you worry or you may be unable to stay asleep. You could feel as if you’re on high alert, constantly waking up or needing sleep aids in order to be able to rest.
For example, I had a friend who was going through a divorce. She would sometimes take melatonin before bed to enable her to sleep through the night, so that she could be on top of her game in the next morning.
However, on the flip side of a crisis is that you might sleep excessively, in order to escape what you're dealing with.
In some cases, this can due to discouragement or depression. If you're sleeping too little, too much, or isolating yourself even if you're awake, because you feel like you can't face the day or that you don't have the strength to keep going, consult a doctor or trained counselor for advice. You can also check out the resources on the IMLL resource page.
A crisis can also change your eating habits. As stress hormones begin to rise within your body, you may find yourself eating more than usual. You will also be more likely to crave comfort foods, too. These could be greasy, fatty, or fried foods. They can also be carbohydrates – especially sweets. Often these comfort foods trigger the release of serotonin in the brain, temporarily making you feel better. You may also find yourself binge eating. Binge eating doesn't always mean that you're purging. I'm a binge eater, but I didn't always acknowledge it because I didn't realize it. Once I realized it I got help for it. In fact, I'm still getting help for it.
But some people during a crisis find their eating habits change as they are unable to eat due to anxiety or depression. For example, if you are dealing with marriage problems, you may find yourself suddenly unable to eat when your spouse is home, because you're reminded of everything that you are both going through. This has never been my problem.
A crisis can also affect the quality of your food choices. If you're going through a medical crisis, and you're having difficulty taking care of yourself, then you may not have the energy to make healthy meals the way you once did. You could end up eating a lot of prepackaged foods that are high in sodium and fat, even if you don’t necessarily like these meals.
Check the resource page for help with eating disorders.
During a crisis, you may find yourself avoiding certain people. For example, if you have a child who is struggling with alcoholism or drugs, or mental illness, you may feel ashamed and withdraw from your circle of parents. You fear judgment or worry that others will look at you differently or look at your child differently. Try to be the person to end the stigma. Realize that these things are illnesses just like diabetes, thyroid disease, or like Carianne's kidney disease. We wouldn't feel ashamed of someone's kidney disease or thyroid disease.
Sometimes, relationships are strained due to high emotions during a crisis. Your best friend might say you’re being impatient and quick to snap at people.
A spouse may explain they’re having difficulty dealing with your sadness and your grief. They may express concern because they want to see you happy. In some cases, this can lead to feeling as if you have to wear a mask in your relationships, like you can't really be yourself during this crisis.
A crisis can also affect your career in both negative and positive ways. You may be unable to concentrate or have difficulty remembering things. This is a normal experience during a crisis.
As a result, you may not have as much energy to take on extra projects or you could be unable to contribute as much to the team as you typically would have. You might even take extra time off to deal with things in your personal life.
However, on the flip side, some people find that their career actually improves following a crisis because they suddenly feel like they have a little bit of freedom to step back and acknowledge that they're overworked. I've never jumped on the multi-tasking bandwagon. I've always said that if I'm multi-tasking it means I have too much to do and it's time to ask for help. This might be a time for you to ask for help, too. Some people also re-evaluate where they are and decide that they want to go into a different field or pursue their career in a new way.
WHAT NOT TO DO DURING A CRISIS
Figuring out what to do in a crisis is important. But first, you should know what not to do during a crisis. These seemingly small mistakes can make a crisis seem worse than it is or even prolong a crisis.
MISTAKE #1 – IGNORE THE PROBLEM
During a crisis, you will face three possible decisions. Fight, flight, or freeze. These are not deliberate, thought out responses.
First is fight where you rise up to meet the challenge.
Then there’s flight, which is where you avoid the challenge altogether and try to run away from it.
The third secret option is freezing. This is where you choose to do nothing. You may even go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Freezing is a normal instinct, and it's the one that people experience the most.
However, it's important to understand that problems don't go away on their own. You cannot ignore it and hope this crisis gets better. Doing this could actually end up hurting you in the long run.
For example, you're suddenly diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness. The normal instinct, when it comes to freezing here would be to deny that you are sick, or to put off seeking needed medical treatment. At some point, after the initial shock wears off, you'll have to make a choice – fight or flight.
You might be hoping that if you don't acknowledge the fact that you're ill, you'll be okay. In the meantime, your health continues to decline and you’re wasting precious time that you could use to fight your disease.
MISTAKE #2 – YOU FALL INTO VICTIM THINKING
Another mistake to avoid during a crisis is victim thinking. Victim thinking is when you give away your power, and you view yourself as nothing more than a victim of circumstance. You might find yourself thinking things like:
- I deserve this.
- Bad things always happen to me.
- I am a bad person.
While these thoughts are understandable and even normal, they do not serve you. They prevent you from taking back your power and making smart decisions. Instead you just sit there in a pit, and you review all the reasons why this happened, and why you deserved for it to happen.
Some of this is human nature. It's natural to want a reason and when we can't find an obvious reason, we blame ourselves. You might be tempted to think that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.
So, when something bad happens, you automatically assume it's because you're bad. In reality, though, life happens to all of us. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, all the same.
Even if you're a really great person, bad things may still happen. Even if you're a really bad person, good things may still happen to you. You have no real control over what happens. You can only accept what life hands you. And, remember that God is always with you.
MISTAKE #3 – YOU RESCUE OTHERS
Next, you want to avoid swooping and rescuing others during a crisis. It can be tempting to take over and begin solving the problem for those around you, especially in a family crisis.
For example, I have a friend whose ex-husband has always had a problem with alcoholism. He recently got arrested for driving while intoxicated. When he calls her about this, she immediately rushes to the jail to bail him out, and even gives him the money to pay the electric bill he drank away last night.
Always taking responsibility for other people and rescuing them, creates an unhealthy dynamic in your relationships and causes you unnecessary stress. It also will exhaust you and can lead to burning out. It may even create a crisis in your life because you're busy fixing everyone else’s problems.
MISTAKE #4 – YOU LET PANIC DRIVE YOUR DECISIONS
Depending on the crisis, this may look different. You may find yourself hoarding resources….like toilet paper. You might make decisions that damage you in the long-term. You could even take unnecessary risks with your finances or health.
For example, if you're facing foreclosure, you may gamble on money you don't have in the hopes that you will make back enough to save your home from foreclosure. You’re risking long-term financial damage in the hopes that you can get a quick fix.
My home has been at risk of being in foreclosure 3x. Luckily the bank has worked with us each time and for that I'm grateful. Did I panic? Yes. Did I act on that panic? No. Well…yes, I did. I contacted the bank for help. So, you can let panic drive your decisions as long as you're clear-headed about the decisions you're making.
Understand that any time you face a crisis, it can be overwhelming. You may find yourself struggling with what to do next and that's completely normal. But the important thing is you take action, avoid victim thinking, refuse to rescue others, and focus on making clear-headed decisions.