10 Ways To Cope With The Drag Of Living In A ‘Chronic Crisis’

Is living in a constant crisis bringing you down?

10 Ways To Cope With ‘Chronic Crisis’ getty

This spring and summer feel a bit like we're permanently stuck in line at a theme park. Every time we round another corner, certain it’s finally our turn to have some fun (or make any progress or plans), we face another packed set of snaking queue barriers.

And there's no end in sight! Argh!

Living in a constant, chronic crisis is difficult beyond belief. How do you deal with crisis? Are you just stuck feeling burned out?


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The year marches on… And we’ve lost count of the days, weeks, and months we’ve spent “dealing” with the ravages of COVID-19. The massive life disruptions and economic instability, all while facing the horrific crimes of racism.

It’s exhausting to keep processing all this, let alone attempting to calm our over-alarmed nervous systems!

Where is that clever guidebook or cheerful cartoon character (or trustworthy, unified leadership!) to help us negotiate this uncertainty?

How will you be reassured that you're even in line for a healthy, financially stable, and meaningfully engaged life?


What can you do as the drama drags on?

With routines and roadmaps out the window, it’s time to pull out your inner GPS, starting with what you already know for sure (but can easily forget in your busy-ness).

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s really important to you — the long-haul perspective?

2. What has worked for you in the past?

3. What does not work for you?

You're not alone if just reading those three not-so-little questions makes you a bit uneasy. Maybe you've perfected the art of “busy” to avoid possibly uncomfortable self-reflection.

The human brain finds some comfort in the illusion of certainty in the status quo, even when said state is less-than healthy or happy.


But along comes this massive disruption forcing you to re-evaluate the status quo. It turns out this crisis has many reconsidering their career, life choices, and even relationships!

But how do you even begin that process when you are so tired and unsettled? Start by using the questions above with a light and compassionate heart.

This isn’t a matter of “getting it right” or beating yourself up for every “wrong” turn you’ve taken. Nor is it time to make fast or rash decisions or delude yourself that an airtight master plan will wipe out all uncertainty.

But it is a great opportunity to set aside some time to get curious about the possible gifts of this chaos.


Here are 10 helpful tips for dealing with the pain and drama of living in a constant crisis.

1. Set healthy boundaries.

Set boundaries around your time, or you can drive yourself crazy!

Give yourself safe parameters for projects you're dealing with, like working for 30 minutes and then taking a break.

2. Calm your body to calm your mind.

You cannot access creativity and wiser thinking if your brain is fighting fires.

Simple breathwork will do the trick. Add a few stretches for extra credit.

3. Make routines and rituals.

Create a ritual for yourself that reassures your brain it’s safe to go into curious and creative mode. Your brain loves cues.


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4. Dedicate a notebook to these questions and thoughts.

Writing helps you process, find clarity, and heal. Having a place to park these explorations helps you capture your own wisdom. Keep some running lists — this is not a "one and done" process!

5. Remind yourself that this is exploration.

Or play, looking from different viewpoints, thinking about fit… Even if the stakes feel high. (Breathe, again!) Creativity blossoms the more you let go.

6. Try something different.

Use colors and pictures to engage non-verbal processing and wisdom.

7. Make a visual note about what you're deciding on.

Stuck deciding on something? Put your ideas and choices on sticky notes where you can see them for a few days (like the bathroom mirror), and let them percolate to clarity.


8. Make some of these family, team, or buddy activities.

For example, make a "family values" board. Or engage in some activities with your kids and your partner.

9. Extend your thought process out while you collaborate.

Do the same for strengths, dreams, hopes, wishes... Give yourself something to focus on!

10. Never, ever forget that you are not alone.

Even though it may feel like it!


Chances are someone else would love to help you think things through. Don’t you like to help others?

What if one of the best gifts of 2020 is the chance to reconnect within and to feel more control of your life choices?

How do you spend your precious energy and attention, even when the current situation is beyond control? Maybe you’ll find you are happy with your status quo?

Thoughtfully renewing your commitment can be hugely energizing and give you the resilience to ride the storm.

Or maybe you take this time to strategize some course changes. Whichever, taking time to capture your wisdom and orient to your values is always well spent — and a good way to regain a bit of control and sanity in this “chronic crisis.”


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Cynthia Ackrill, MD helps clients and organizations find "real life" strategies to take control of stress. If you would like help conquering your OTD and lowering your stress, email today or sign up for a class to take control of your life!