How to deal with a life or existential crisis?
What is a crisis? Does it only affect ill or disturbed individuals? What can it lead to?
Every life crisis has a crucial impact and requires immediate resolutions and closures to life’s important matters.
How to recognize We’re having a crisis?
Sometimes we can’t be sure if what we’re going through is actually a crisis. In most cases it happens when it comes to developmental and existential crisis (which you will read more about in a moment). How to recognize, then, that we’re having a crisis? The characteristics of a crisis state are:
- usually a sudden start, related to a particular situation,
- strong sense of emotional chaos, tension, anxiety and fear,
- depressed mood, poor cognitive functioning (problems with attention and concentration as well as memory),
- falling out of or putting on hold the roles served in society (i.e. we stop going to work or school, a new parent may stop taking care of their child etc.),
- we aim for immediate solutions, trying to solve a particular problem in any possible way, at any cost.
How to deal with a existential crisis?
Every crisis comes with three possible solutions:
- We go back to the balanced state from before the crisis – it’s neither better nor worse.
- The severe crisis stage is gone, but we still suffer and can’t see a way out of it, which causes us to i.e. get sick, fall into an addiction, get in trouble with law etc.
- The crisis turns out to be an opportunity to grow – and this scenario, which is the most desirable one, is what we will focus on below.
What can you do, then, to successfully (as in, with growth) get out of a crisis you’re going through?
- Try to specify the causes of the crisis – now you know what types of crisis you can run into. Try to answer yourself the question of what could have caused it to happen.
- Identify the available resources – the definition of crisis implies that our resources at the time when it occurs are very limited or locked. Maybe you can go look for them outside? Maybe you’re actually able to define your resources (spiritual, mental, physical, material) that could help you find a way out of a crisis situation?
- Observe yourself and give yourself a permission to experience it – let your emotions speak. Rejecting or denying them at this stage will cause them to resurface in the future when you least expect it. Take a look at your behavior as well and try to avoid acting on impulse.
- Activate your support network – you don’t have to look for all the answers by yourself. Let others help you in this difficult time, surround yourself with people you trust and care about.
- Seek professional help – if your basic support network in form of family or friends proves insufficient, don’t hesitate turning to a professional for help (psychologist or psychiatrist), or to an adequate instituation.