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Patient education: Coping in times of crisis (The Basics)

Patient education: Coping in times of crisis (The Basics)

What is a crisis? — A "crisis" is a time of extreme difficulty or danger.

A crisis can be global, like living through a pandemic, disaster, or war. This kind of crisis affects many people at once. A crisis can also be personal, like dealing with a death in the family.

In either type of crisis, things might feel uncertain and out of your control. You might feel a lot of fear, worry, or anxiety. These feelings are normal, but it is hard to not let them get in the way of your everyday activities.

How do people react to a crisis? — A crisis can cause a lot of stress in a person's life. And the feelings of stress can continue even when the initial crisis has passed. In times of crisis, a person might feel unprepared or like everything is out of their control. When there is a national or global crisis, current events might be the center of everyone's conversations. People might pay more attention to the news during a crisis.

Feelings of distress, worry, and fear can affect people even if they weren't directly involved in the crisis. These feelings can affect a person's ability to do their job and how they relate to others. Some people have problems with sleep, appetite, and their overall health. But over time, most people are able to cope, manage their feelings, and lead a healthy life again.

How can I cope? — During a crisis, it can be helpful to focus on these things.

Physical health and safety:

Takes steps to make sure that you are physically safe.

Take care of your body.

-Get plenty of sleep.

-Eat a healthy diet. Avoid or limit alcohol.

-If possible, get regular physical activity. Even gentle forms of activity, like walking, are good for your health. Try to get outside a little each day.

Emotional health and safety:

Stay informed, but be mindful of how you choose to do this. Use reliable sources for information. Limit how much time you spend watching or listening to the news. Be aware of young children who are nearby and might hear or see the news.

Accept the fact that you worry. Don't try to stop it, but rather, take charge of your worry.

-Chose a time to think about what worries you. For example, it might help to schedule yourself 10 to 20 minutes each day. Use this time to think about what worries you, then try to go on with your day.

-Take time each day to write down your worries. Then, you can use your list during your chosen time to worry.

Connect with others:

If you can, get together with people who are important to you.

If you cannot physically get together, connect with people in other ways. You can reach out by phone or computer to talk, text, video chat, or email.

Schedule regular times to visit with loved ones however you can.

Remain calm:

Find ways to distract you when you worry. Talk about other things with family and friends.

Learn to meditate. Even a few minutes of slow breathing can help calm your mind and body.

Do things with your hands. You might learn to knit, draw, doodle, or work with wood or clay.

Choose a task that you can finish and feel good about. You can clean out a closet or a drawer, or try a new recipe.

Help yourself and others:

Seek professional help. If you are struggling, tell your doctor or nurse. They might suggest different treatments to help you. Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you cope with uncertainty and lessen your worry.

Look for ways to help others. When you think about someone else, it can help relieve your own worries.

Restore hope:

Learn to live with some uncertainty. Worry does not change the future or make it better.

Remind yourself that you cannot know the future. Take life 1 day at a time.

Accept that you cannot control all situations and there might be nothing you can do to change some things.

Try to find something positive, even in a negative situation.

More on this topic

Patient education: Stress (The Basics)
Patient education: Coping with stress (The Basics)
Patient education: Post-traumatic stress disorder (The Basics)
Patient education: Generalized anxiety disorder (The Basics)
Patient education: Depression in adults (The Basics)
Patient education: Depression in children and teens (The Basics)

Patient education: Depression in adults (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Depression in children and adolescents (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jun 02, 2024.
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