Coping with The Stress and Adjusting Positively in
These Times of Crisis and Uncertainty

By Michele Meiché

 

1. Be aware of how you are feeling. Self-awareness is a key component
to healing. Allow time during your day to check in with yourself. Take
this time to access and process your feelings without judging or
discounting them. You can do this by simply noticing how you are feeling
and making a nonjudgmental mental note. This is simply to acknowledge
your emotional state. Other methods for processing are: writing your
feelings down in a journal, talking with someone you trust and feel safe
with, drawing or painting how you are feeling. The main point is to set
aside some time to check in with yourself. Think of the example of a tire
that has too much air. You want to release the air pressure little by little
to create the right balance of air for the tire. The same principle applies
in times of crisis and in times of heightened anxiety. Letting out pressure little by little is far better than one big blow out. Even though it is very important at this time not to suppress feelings, the outlets need to be appropriate, safe, and healthy.

There are a wide range of emotional experiences for each individual and these emotional states are not necessarily consistent. One needs to
figure these emotional states into their life experience without judgement
or trying to "rush through" them. One may feel angry, irritated, sad,
anxious, listless, or even experience the feeling of, "What’s the use."
These feelings will most likely be cyclical. Everyone experiences these feelings in varying degrees, and there are no wrong or right feelings. If
these emotions seem to intensify, and you experience them chronically,
you may want to seek professional assistance, work with a crisis management group or grief process group.


2. Some common feelings, emotions, and mental states experienced in this type of situation are: (There are as many unique combinations of feelings as there are unique individuals. Again, remember no feelings are wrong or right. They simply are feelings needing a healthy outlet.)

Anxiety
Anger
Sadness
Helplessness
Guilt
Sense of loss
Listlessness
Disorientation
Irritability
Sleeplessness
"Blue Moods"
Shock
Numbness— sense of "no feelings"
Fear
Apprehension
A feeling of "What’s the use"
Doubting one’s purpose
Re-evaluating values
Wanting to be busy all the time
Vulnerability
Avoidance of issues
Avoidance of events
Not wanting to talk
Wanting to talk more than one usually does
Not wanting to be alone, or go places alone
Some days you may feel untouched by these events, other days feel greatly affected.


3. What are you experiencing at this time?


4. What can you personally do to?

Self nurture

Take care of your emotional/feeling state and feel safer in your environment

Feel more calm, peaceful, and relaxed.

Create a sense of healthy personal control.

Get positive input

Reinforce your spiritual connection: Connect with God, your personal interpretation/belief on this, whether through church, spiritual group, new thought organization, synagogue, mosque, temple, chapel, meditation, visualization, uplifting book, 12-Step program, uplifting talks, friends, family, nature, or other healthy life enhancing groups.


5. Ways to integrate and positively channel your emotions, feelings, and energy: Create a flexible routine. You are most likely going to have to make adjustments because of personal feelings, feelings of those around you, and the changes in the community, business community, as well as nation. Situations in life may seem up and down and unpredictable.

How can you gather support during this time?

We all need a sense of positive, non-ridged control in our environment to feel safe.

Clean out your closets. Give to charity what you do not need. Clean out the garage. Sweep the leaves. Rearrange the household furniture. What other activities will give you a positive and flexible sense of control.

What have you always wanted to do? Is there something you have always wanted to learn?


6. We are in a state of change and transition. Our life has been changed by recent tragic events, and therefore our personal life has changed. We are adjusting to that change on all levels: mentally, emotionally, physically, and materially.

We will adapt, and acclimate to these changes on a personal level. This is called restructuring, or reorientation.

It is important to create as healthy, safe, and stress-free environment while you heal from this tragedy and all that it means to you in your life at this time.

Be very gentle with yourself and others at this time.

If you experience anger or irritability, get to the feelings of vulnerability and helplessness that are usually underneath. Write about how you are feeling, or share with someone close. By doing so, you acknowledge what is going on, so you can then move on.


7. Monitor how long you dwell on feelings that seem negative or depressing. This is an individual judgement call. You don’t want to dwell, yet you don’t want to avoid or discount.

Don’t discount friends at this time; friends can be an excellent source of support.

Staying informed can give a sense of control. But, preoccupation with events we can’t control is non- productive and destructive.

We can realistically only control our own thoughts and actions.


8. List your own positive ways of coping, adjusting, and moving forward. (This can be a family project. The more each member feels a sense of positive control and contribution, the easier the healing process.)

The state of the world has always been uncertain, as well as our own personal destiny. There is only so much one can know, even with the best psychic! However, at times like these, the uncertainty and unpredictability is heightened to an acute level.

If you have pre-existing conditions it might be a good time to handle them, seek professional assistance, or just be aware they may be re-stimulated by the present events.

Events like the ones we are living through tend to trigger past traumas. This is natural. You may want to allow healing time for this factor.

Again, resist the tendency to overdo. Even if you are very busy you can fit in 10 to 15 minutes a day to check in with yourself. Balance is key to healing.

It is too much for a family or couple to handle these circumstances. These events and the life changes it is creating are stressors and can cause undue distress if one is dependent on just one person for emotional support or keeping it bottled up. This is not just a family affair. It is a community affair. Use your community resources.

Connect with others, even if sporadic Do what you can during these times, and
trust your feelings.

And please seek professional assistance, especially if you are experiencing erratic behavior and emotions, or if your routine drastically changes in response to the tragic events we are living through.

 

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Michele Meiché Ct.H.A. Ph.D.
Transpersonal Therapist
Bereavement Counselor of Board Certified Hypnotherapist ©2001