Meeting The Challenge of Staying Healthy During A Crisis Includes Stress-Reduction, Self-Care, And Good Lifestyle Habits
It happens to everyone. You’re coping with the demands of your life, and suddenly a crisis brings you to a halt. Pegasus caregivers in Los Angeles and elsewhere have collected these tips for staying healthy during a crisis.
Many individuals regard a crisis as something seriously interfering with their life. What constitutes a crisis for one may be nothing more than a minor annoyance to another.
Experts define a crisis in more than one way. Their definitions may be summarized as an obstacle or event that exceeds your ability to cope. How you react to a crisis can affect your health.
Your reaction often depends on the type of crisis. Common types are classified as follows:
- Developmental – these result from changes in your life. The changes aren’t always negative. Positive changes, just because they are a change, can be stressful in the short term. Retirement is a typical example.
- Situational – as the name implies, these are due to a sudden and unexpected change. These tend to be negative, such as an accident. These strain your ability to cope, especially in the short term, but can create long-term stress.
- Existential – these are changes that affect your very existence, such as aging. You may start feeling valueless. For many people, these can result in long-term stress and affect your mental health.
There’s overlap in the classifications. For example, a divorce could fit any of the above categories. What’s important is your reaction and how you pick up the pieces after a crisis.
Part of coping with a crisis is staying strong. Your ability to stay healthy in a crisis involves accepting the reality of what happened. Denying it wastes your precious energy.
Self-care Is Essential
Give priority to self-care. Eating well and getting enough sleep are essential for maintaining your health. Try to get in some physical activity, such as a walk.
If the nature of the crisis allows, try to keep to your normal schedule. Tending to daily activities can be calming as well as giving you a sense of control. While you may want to postpone major decisions, making small decisions is another way of staying in control.
A crisis often overwhelms you. Try making a list of what you need to do to overcome what has happened. Break actions into the simplest steps that you can, and check off each one.
Sometimes even that is too much. Stop for a moment, and consider what is the best thing you can do for yourself. That might be as basic as getting dressed.
It’s the small things that will help you stay healthy as you weather a crisis. Acknowledge each accomplishment, no matter how insignificant it seems. Each little action is progress.
Have compassion for yourself. Give yourself time. You’re a human, with emotions.
Acknowledge And Accept Your Feelings
Although you may feel better by hiding or suppressing your emotions, doing so is harmful in the long run. Accept what you’re feeling, even if it’s painful. That doesn’t mean wallowing in self-pity, but it’s healthy to acknowledge that you’re hurting.
Find someone you can trust to confide in. If not a friend, seek a spiritual or professional counselor. You do not have to face a crisis alone.
Practice Stress Reduction
Stress weakens your immune system during a crisis. In addition to self-care, you may need to practice some stress-reduction techniques. Relaxation is a proven way to reduce your stress and stay healthy.
Relaxing may not be easy, but it’s inexpensive and something you can do at home. Try any or all of the following relaxation techniques:
- Deep breathing – concentrating on your breath can take your mind off your worries
- Body scan – consider each part of your body and consciously release any tension you feel in it
- Imagery – envision calming things, sounds, or experiences.
- Meditation – helpful for focusing on the here and now
- Yoga, tai chi, or qigong – physical movements that are calming
- Mantra or repetitive prayer – repeating a short phrase or prayer that comforts you
None of these are mutually exclusive. Combine them in whatever way works for you.
If you need instructions or assistance, you’ll find plenty of resources with an internet search. There are also apps, books, and classes available.
Avoid Unhealthy Indulgences
Good health is made up of four components: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual. A crisis can wreak havoc with all four parts at once. Staying healthy during a crisis is challenging.
It’s easy to resort to “feel-good” practices to relieve the stress of a crisis. That can include over-consumption of alcohol or drug use. Or you may indulge with snacks or other unhealthy foods to temporarily feel better.
A crisis is inevitable. Because you never know what it will be or when it will occur, practicing good lifestyle habits is your best preparation. Your ingrained good habits will serve to keep you from turning to unhealthy ways of coping.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Los Angeles and our other locations are always available when you need assistance during a crisis.