What to do when you feel like everything’s falling apart

The world is wonderful and beautiful, but that can be hard to see when a crisis punctures your perception of it.

When we’re in crisis, we often shut down and repress or blow up and stress.  Neither helps us get back to our goal of feeling good again.  From someone who’s felt her life was in shambles more than a tempered glass windshield after a hail storm, many things that feel like the end of the world are actually components of a new normal.

1.  Cut out the what-ifs:  My brain loves what-if statements.  “What if I’d done this instead?” “What if I hadn’t said that?” “What if I hadn’t thought like that before?”  Giving your mind infinite imaginary scenarios is letting it play alone in the playground of anxiety.  When you’re in distress, you want your mind babysat.  You need to keep track of what it’s doing, so you can keep yourself focused and correct any misconceptions later.  And, when you play what-if games, you’re not dealing with reality anymore.

2.  Hold your horses:  Take a minute and breathe.  It’s like trying to eat chips and salsa while you’re riding a bike: each needs its own time to complete, and you can’t do both at once (either you’ll spill your salsa or fall off your bike which leaves you hungry and hurt).  Poor analogies aside, you need to deal with one thing at a time: the crisis and life.  When you’re feeling like things are falling apart, this is something that probably needs attention, because it’s affecting how you feel.  And how you feel affects basically every other part of your life.  Stop what you’re doing for five minutes and think about what’s wrong.

3.  Don’t expect to solve your problem in those five minutes:  The only problems that get solved in five minutes are the ones you find the Quizlet answers to from the semester before.  You need to dedicate more than a Starbucks order waiting time’s worth of time to fix what’s wrong with how you’re feeling.  Give yourself time to process what’s going on, analyze how you can solve it, and enact your solution.  This can be really helpful, because a lot of the times these crises come with a lot of anxiety, and giving yourself just a couple minutes to make your move is an unnecessarily stressful deadline to put on yourself.

4.  Don’t feel like you need a solution right now:  Going along with the part about anxiety, don’t come up with unrealistic deadlines and expectations for yourself.  You’re already having a hard enough time, so giving yourself a little bit of leeway and letting yourself process the situation before acting takes some of the pressure off.

5.  Understand that everyone feels like this at some point:  It’s isolating when you feel like you’re the only one going through an experience, but you being solo is rarely the case.  Even just that thought, that someone else has faced a problem like yours and persisted can bring you solace.  There’re people you can talk to who want to help and listen, and your only obstacle is finding those people.

Sincerely,

Calla

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