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Coping With Crisis

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Developing coping skills to use before and during a crisis can make a big difference in your life. Of course this is easier said than done, and some people never develop useful crisis-coping skills. This is a good time in your life to begin to learn these skills, as crisis often comes when you least expect it.

Crises, although painful, are common. They include:

Illness or accidents, especially if hospitalization is necessary.

Divorce or separation in your family.

Death of parent, close relative or friend.

Child abuse, including incest, violence, rape or emotional abuse.

Abuse of a parent, either physical or emotional.

What You Can Do

If a person you love is in the middle of a crisis, what can you do? A person in crisis needs extra attention, love and support. Spend special time with them; talking, listening, sharing physical affection or just being there. If you are in a crisis, let your friends and family know. Tell them, talk to them, share your thoughts and fears. They want to help, as they have been through some crisis or another as well.

A person's fears will decrease if they talk to others who have been through the same situation. Be honest, yet still sensitive to their feelings. Tell them their feelings are normal, and that a good cry is actually healthy.

Get Help for Abuse

When there has been physical or emotional abuse, get help from social service agencies, guidance counselors, your clergy or community groups. You and your family and friends will be able to get through these painful situations sooner if you use available resources.

Coping Strategies

Talk to yourself positively. Replace negative thoughts such as, "Nothing will be better from now on," or "Everything sucks!" with realistic ones: "How could I know that?" and "Things will get better soon."

Analyze your negative thoughts as a scientist might; try to find the evidence hidden in your life. You will find at least one thing that you are capable of doing. You will find at least one person you can trust. You will find at least one person who likes you.

Exercise is beneficial for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its effect on stress. Exercise is a known stress buster--when you're in the midst of a crisis, your stress levels are at their highest. Take some time to walk, run, swim or ride your bike.

Talk to people you can trust and share with them your thoughts and fears. Just letting someone else in on what you're going through can ease the pain.

Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be very therapeutic. If you have difficulty sharing with others, this may be a way for you to lighten your emotional load.

Eat well, drink water and get plenty of sleep. Taking good care of yourself is essential for a long and happy life. Doing so during a time of crisis will also help give you the energy and perspective needed to get through the rough times.

After reading these strategies, make them more suitable for your own situation and write them down. Read them now and when you are feeling better. Coping strategies can get you through tough times and help you enjoy the gift of life!


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