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Posts from February 2013

Emotional First Aid: How to Keep it Together When You Are Falling Apart

Depression Woman with Kleenex
Have you ever noticed how Life sometimes delivers a "lightning round" of challenges, one right after the other? It is possible to spiral to a level of emotional "tilt" where it seems like every aspect of your life is falling apart. You can get to such a crisis point that you don't even have the presence of mind to stop and know where to start. Paralysis may set in and all you can do is sit on the couch with a frozen stare of overwhelm. Days become nights filled with depression, apathy, anxiety, isolation, and confusion.

Here is a suggested place to start when you feel like you have enough composure to start to put one foot in front of the other.

1) Get help. You need and deserve some help. Confide in a friend; talk with a therapist. Just share what is going on for you. You don't have to be "fixed;" it can be a comfort to share the weight of your burden with another human being.

2) Narrow your focus down to just today.  Do only what is in front of you. Simplify. Stop replaying yesterday and stop practicing tomorrow. Manage your life one hour at a time, one day at a time. Chunk your life down into manageable bits. "What am I in control of? What am I not in control of?" Simplify. Breathe... You need to conserve what little energy you have left and use it for yourself.

3) Be gentle and nurturing toward yourself. If your best friend was going through this, how would you support her? Support yourself this way. Breathe in to a count of three; breathe out to a count of five. Do this four times a day. Buy yourself flowers.

4) Eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, try to move your body even if it's just to go for a walk and get at least 15 minutes of sun exposure every day. You need the Vitamin D from the sun.

5) Remember that this kind of crisis warps your sense of time. You will fear that you will never come through the other end of this. You will. "This, too, shall pass." Don't quit before your miracle. Get back into today. Now. This minute. Breathe...

6) If you have any kind of spiritual belief system, get back to it. Read an inspirational book, something that will put you back into "the big picture" of Life and the Universe. Pray, meditate, light a candle, journal about it. Write every worry down onto a piece of paper, fold it and put it in your "Let Go, Let God" bag. If you are agnostic or atheist, do it anyway and call the bag something else. The act of writing it all down on separate small pieces of paper helps to organize, and it imposes some appropriate perspective to what feels like a huge brown overwhelming cloud. It helps you to feel bigger than your problems.

7) Do a mental or written gratitude list. I know you might be mad and you don't feel like being grateful. Do it anyway. Just look around for a minute and recognize a few small or large things you are grateful for. Related to this, perform some act of kindness today, preferably for a stranger and do it anonymously if you can.

8) It is OK to withdraw; just don't isolate. You can go within, be quiet and be alone. It is a common response to want to contract and pull inward. The fetal position under the covers can be comforting. Just be sure you come out and bathe, eat, drink water and do your life whenever you can.

These occasional periods of "too much" are a normal part of Life for those of us who are showing up to do our lives. Get some support. This is why friendships are made. Every now and then, we need to actually call in and enlist the benefits of the friendships we have built. They are not there just for movie companionship.

I would love to hear from you about how you have navigated troubled waters in the past. Please share your tools for getting through the hard times.

Candle Close Up With Blue Green Background


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