Tuesday, 3 November 2015

10 Steps To Surviving A Crisis

This time last year my world was tipped completely upside down, I was in crisis; I felt abandoned, in complete despair and broken.
I don't want to go into detail because it was a personal situation that still effects my life but even though I honestly felt like I had endured everything I could cope with, I, somehow found the strength to face everything and that is my proudest achievement.
If you are faced with a crisis in your life, here at ten tips that have helped me survive and I hope they work for you.

1. Take things one step at a time. In a crisis, when you look at the big picture you can feel terrifyingly overwhelmed by the situation and this is completely normal. By taking things one step at time, i.e what is the first thing that I should focus on to get myself closer to where I need to be. By doing this you break things down into smaller and more manageable tasks, this helps you to focus on what you can do in a situation rather than being distracted by how scared you may feel by the severity of where you are.

2. Get Organised. I am not know for my amazing organisation skills but this is one of the most important things in terms of the way it allowed me to have a semblance of control over my life.
They always say 'you need to be the change you want to see in the world' and that applies to this; if you want your world (your reality) to be more ordered then you need to become more ordered. Give yourself  a to-do list for things that you desperately need to get done and make sure you do them. This will mean you won't need to 'sweat the small stuff'.

3. BREATHE. Learning to breathe properly can really help you cope better with anxiety and stressful situations. It might suprise you to know that most people in daily life don't breathe properly, you can tell because if you ask someone to take a deep breath their chest will rise and shoulders will become tense. What is supposed to happen is, your chest stays relaxed, your diaphragm (just below the navel) drops down and allows the bottom of your lungs to fill right to the bottom with oxygen and expand outwards, like balloons. This is why singers will often talk about breathing 'into your diaphragm'. Breathing can be linked to our emotions because, for example, when someone is suffering from panic attack and hyper-ventilating (taking fast very shallow breaths that only use the top portions of the chest) it could be argued that this happens because someone denying their emotional issues.
By not dealing with these you bury them and anxiety and panic attacks can happen which include symptoms of hyper-ventilating.
 I have heard from vocal professionals who have experienced emotional breakthroughs simply through breathing properly. This can be quite a hard concept for people to wrapped their heads around but the easiest way to test this out is by lying down on your bed and relaxing, place your hands on your navel (belly-button) and breathe out as much air as you can, don't think about breathing, just wait for your body to react because it knows what it is doing. 
When you feel over-whelmed take some deep, gentle breathes and just focus your mind on breathing. I wouldn't recommend people with asthma or lung problems to do this without a doctor or on their own!

4. Meditate. When negative thoughts start flying around it can be hard to get back to a positive and productive state of mind, this is where meditation can help because it's easier to go from negative thought to no thoughts, than straight to a positive thought.
I like to start meditation by sitting down, taking a deep breathe, closing my eyes and saying 'quite mind', sometimes I repeat this. I imagine a white, golden luminescent light filling my mind and flowing down to my chest and I say a few times 'open heart' and then I finish by imagining the light following down to the rest of my body and I think to myself 'peaceful soul'. After that I just sit there and don't feel any need to think about anything else for however long feels comfortable. This is a great way to 'check out' of life when everything is a bit scary.

5. Get yourself a mantra. When you don't have time to meditate, having a mantra can help you to centre yourself when your energy goes into panic mode. This is particularly great if you are in any form of a relationship with someone that is quite volatile or abrasive. Your mantra can be anything but a good place to start is 'I am loved, I am safe and my intention is good'. Obviously you can cater this to your situation but you really need to give yourself a phrase that will help you find your equilibrium again.

6. Try and get as much sleep as possible. During a crisis sleep can feel so far away. I myself have spent so many nights too upset and distressed to feel tired and to tired to really cope with my emotions, I know that doesn't make sense but that is how I feel/felt sometimes. But sleep is exactly what you need to give yourself the strength to cope, also dreaming helps the subconscious to problem-solve the issues that you are faced during your waking life. So it can help you to find clarity with how you really feel about certain areas of your life.

7. Don't be afraid to express yourself. Sometimes the pressure to stay 'positive' can make you think that you shouldn't acknowledge negative emotions but this is not right. Feelings of sadness, anger  and fear are important. They cannot be buried because they will always rise to the top again, if you don't deal with them.You need to find a safe environment for yourself to express and talk about your emotions, this can be an excercise class where you think about everything that makes you angry and sad and take it out there, having a good cry (don't hold the tears in) or talking to someone and just having a rant. Don't feel alone with your emotions and remember that everything that you are feeling is valid.

8. Have some YOU time. You need time to unwind and have a break, this can require saving money up or planning but do the saving, do the planning! It is so worth it.
If you like live music go and do that. Just make sure, from time to time you socialise, you spend time with friends or do something you love. You need to nourish yourself too, to keep that fire within you burning.

9. See the bigger picture. Know that even though you are going through a terrible time, this won't always be the way things are. You will laugh again, you will smile again, you just need to wait for the break in the clouds and trust that it will come.

10. Get in touch and research. There are charities and people out there who are there to listen to you without judgement, to remind you that they care about you and that you have a voice. Religion isn't right for everyone but sometimes reaching out to your local religious community can give you a support group of people who live their lives with a strong sense of compassion and giving. Researching in to support that you can get from the council or many different charities is important if that is something that you need. If your crisis is financial there are websites that offer free and impartial advice and free courses on how to budget.

I wanted to close with this quote and a few links to various UK based charities and advice services.

'She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her away, she readjusted her sails'.
- Elizabeth Edwards


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