When the Crisis is PersonalBy Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS / February 28, 2020
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The boss has unreasonable demands and you are doing the very best that you can. The relationship was supposed to be happily ever after, but now it’s over. You never thought that you would have bullies in the workplace, especially since you are the supervisor. Why did that person, of all people, have to die?These are a few scenarios of crisis when it feels deeply personal. You are at a point of decisive change that has been preceded by instability. Many times the instability is so unsteadying that nothing in your life seems as though it makes any sense, yet everyone around you appears to go on with life as though all is well. What do you do when you feel sucker-punched by life?
First, let’s look at what not to do. Someone close to us asks “Hey there, how are doing?” and we, knowing that our world feels somewhere between slightly off-kilter and like a sinking ship, respond with “I’m fine.” This is the most egregious mistake. We don’t acknowledge that anything is wrong, which means we do nothing to address the issue. This is the emotional equivalent of knowing you have a tumor without having the biopsy to determine whether it is malignant or benign. The first step in managing a personal crisis is to acknowledge that a crisis exists.
Additionally, it can be difficult for us to recognize the impact that these stressful situations have on us. Some warnings signs that you are being impacted are:
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs (street or over-the-counter) to feel better or have fun (sugar and caffeine are abused substances also).
Next we must make sure to care for ourselves using the four-stage bio-psycho-social-spiritual model. This model looks at the interplay between each of its phases. The bio stage addresses the biological functions of a human being. We need to take care of our physical bodies first in order to be okay. This refers to basics such as sleeping, eating, and hydrating. A practical example could be making sure you take regular breaks to use the restroom throughout the day.
The second stage, called psycho (short for psychological), addresses what’s going on in our minds. We have to think about what we’re thinking about, and we can’t always believe everything we think. This stage involves controlling your feelings, which is done strategically through managing your thoughts.
In the third stage, social, it is imperative to connect with people. This does not mean you must be a social butterfly, but we do need connection to people in order to be well. When connections decrease it is easier to believe negative thoughts that may be present simply because ours is the only voice in our minds.
The final stage is called spiritual. This will mean different things for different people. For some it will mean faith, for others it will mean connection to mindfulness practices, and for others still it will mean making room for a sense of awe and wonder about life. In any case, there is a belief in something bigger than self. This is integral because when you have given a situation your best and it still does not work out, we must have something to believe in that is bigger than ourselves. This allows us the sanity to continue moving forward.
View this model like a four-legged chair. In order for the chair to function properly, all four legs must be present, and each leg must be the same length. If any leg is gone or even short, the chair is uncomfortable at the least and unusable at worst. Care for yourself in each of the four areas multiple times within a week, preferably daily.