7 Ways A Crisis Increases Stress and How To Fight Them


7 Ways A Crisis Increases Stress and How To Fight Them
When a crisis occurs, stress goes up. Learn to identify this and fight the negative effect.
  • Some things may be harder to do because of the crisis causing normal tasks to become much more difficult.  For example, after Hurricane Sandy the shortage of available gas made travel difficult as fueling your car could take hours.  In this situation, your two most helpful strategies are to see if there is an easier way to do the normal task (such as taking gas out of an unused car) or if there is a way to not have to engage in the normal task (such as by taking the train).  Side stepping the effect of the crisis can help relieve this portion of the stress.
  • Previous problems that were okay without the stress can now become so that their effect cannot be controlled.  A problem that you had under control is now unable to be controlled because of the crisis or the stress from the crisis.  Perhaps you had been feeling distant from your spouse but you had been able to keep up just enough communication to make things okay.  A crisis comes along and this takes up more of your time and now your relationship situation has become a real problem.  In this situation, assess whether this problem needs to be addressed now or whether it can wait until after the crisis is likely to have passed.  If you need to address it now, work out what else can be changed without causing another problem and give yourself the resources to be able to address this.
  • Repeated exposure to the crisis may happen more naturally than you are even aware of.  When your crisis is one that affects entire communities, or even if it is significant within your circle, the crisis is likely to be a common feature of the news, of discussions and even of undercurrents in other things that are discussed.  After a major disaster, people hundreds of miles away will continue to see images of the disaster over and over for hours after the crisis occurs.  Even people asking you how you are doing (which has some comforting dimension to it) exposes you to the crisis again.  It is important in these situations to find ways to give yourself a break from the repeated exposure – put in a movie, update friends using social media, engage in other activities.
  • Regular warning signs are now going off more frequently and can become overwhelming.  A month before Hurricane Sandy impacted New York City, I was receiving an average of seven alerts a day from the transportation alerting system.  These alerts were helpful to know what was going on with specific bus or subway routes as well as the bridges and tunnels.  Ten days after the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the same alerting system was sending me one hundred fifteen alerts a day.  This was overwhelming and what had been helpful was now an added burden.  Similarly, there may be things that you watch for as warning signs in a relationship (such as when your significant other does not want to kiss you).  If a crisis hits, these warning signs may become so frequent to be overwhelming.  The key here is to focus on the part of the crisis that you can control.  Also, in this situation disconnect the warning system, if you are able to.
  • The extra energy you get to initially respond to the crisis wears off leaving you feeling somewhat drain
  • Article contributed by
    Advanced Member

    The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

    Marriage and Family Therapist

    The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

    Location: New York, NY
    Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
    Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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