Friday, September 17, 2010

5 Ways to Cope in Times of Crisis

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The upcoming Chronic Babe carnival is on the topic of how you handle a crisis. This list comprises the things I've learned about how to cope when life throws you a curve ball. As I've matured and had to learn how to deal with changes brought about by chronic illness, it has become easier and easier to cope with things I never thought I could handle.

(1) Breathe - By focusing on breathing I can keep myself in the moment and stop my brain from running wild with all the "what ifs". It's always the best place to start when something goes wrong.

(2) Focus on being rational and maintaining perspective - It's in my nature to start flipping out during a crisis. It takes a concerted effort to keep myself thinking rationally. I do my best to keep reminding myself that I can handle whatever has been thrown my way and that freaking out does nothing but make me upset. The older I get the easier I find it to do this. I used to completely lose it and go into hysterical crying with any crisis. I still do that sometimes, but much less often.

(3) Lean on family and friends - In addition to my husband, parents and closest friends, I'm part of a fantastic, close knit message board of women who provide the most amazing support both day to day and in a crisis. It's like our own little Internet family. I don't know what I would do without them. The online migraine and chronic illness community is an incredible source of support, too. Discussing your situation with people who truly understand because they are living the same thing is amazing. Turning to other people also often helps me discover options and solutions I would never have thought of on my own.

(4) Ask for help - This is hard for me. I don't like to need to ask for help. I want to be independent. But when push comes to shove sometimes it would be downright stupid to suffer silently when someone who loves you could do something to make things easier for you. Plus, not everyone is lucky enough to have a supportive family or group of friends. Since I do I should let them help me. After all, they want to.

(5) Be kind to myself - I have a scary tendency to chastise myself for any part I think I might have had in bringing about a crisis. For instance, if I'd only tried harder I wouldn't have lost my job. Never mind that I was dealing with three years of constant migraines when I quit working. It's much easier to deal with a crisis if I can have compassion toward myself and remember that most crises are just a fluke rather than something I deserve for being a bad person.

Coping with a crisis is and probably always will be hard. But with a better idea of what helps me push through I have more confidence in my ability to survive just about anything.

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.