Crisis is a time limited emotional disturbance, caused by an external or internal stressor in which the usual coping mechanism cannot resolve the problem. We deal with a lot of stress and tension in our day-to-day life and more or less we are able to cope with it. But when the level of stress is so intense that the usual coping mechanism is not enough to solve the issue, crisis occurs. When a crisis is not solved in time, it may be manifested as physical or psychological ailments. So it is important to understand how to manage a crisis effectively.
What are the types of crisis?
There are mainly two types of crisis you may have to encounter. They are Situational crisis and maturational crisis. Situational crisis are something that you encounter as a result of an acute change in the external or internal factors and is not associated with your age and developmental process. Maturational crisis as the name suggests, occurs as you go through the developmental process and role changes in your life. Maturational crisis are normal and occurs throughout your life with your changing family role and responsibilities. In both types of crisis you need to have effective coping skills to overcome them and get some benefit out of it. Below is an Example of crisis.
Mr. John is a factory worker and is the bread winner of his family. One day while he was working in the factory, he had an accident in which he lost one of his legs and had to retire from his job. He was no longer able to earn for his family and his wife had to search for a job.
Mr. Smith is 25 years old and is the only son of his father. His father retired from his job and Smith had to take care of the family for financial support. He was doing his post graduation when his father retired. He had to do some part time job to support his family. In the first example, Mr John had an accident which created a crisis for him and in second example, Mr Smith had to take the responsibility of his family and that caused the crisis for him. This is the difference with both types of crisis.
During the crisis period, individual passes through certain phases based on his response to the stressor.
Phase I: This is the stage of initial coping mechanism. The individual tries to solve the problem using his primary coping mechanisms. When you are in the first phase you have anxiety but tries to solve them.
Phase II: As the initial coping mechanism fails to solve the problem, anxiety increases to a certain level in which you need to try new methods to solve the issue. You will be irritable, may experience lack of sleep and loss of appetite. You will have some physical symptoms associated with it.
Phase III: When the secondary coping also fails, the individual develops uncontrolled anxiety and the psychological equilibrium or balance changes. This is the cause behind most of the psychiatric problems as well as biological disorders. E.g.: lack of sleep, Eating disorders etc.
How do we manage the crisis effectively?
There are some steps in effective management of a crisis. They are as follows:
Plan of action
Evaluation and re-planning.
Find out the exact cause of the stress, how does it affect you? and what are the solutions you can use to solve them. Assessment is the most important phase in crisis management, as an effective assessment of the problem will reveal the cause, depth, and the solutions. No locks are made without a key and there are no problems without a solution. The solutions will be hidden in the problem itself and so it is important to understand what the problem is. While we think of the problem, we should check the different aspects of it and come to a conclusion with covering the problem as a whole.
You must have heard of the story of three blind men who went to see an elephant. The first man touched the tail of elephant and told the elephant is like a broom. The second one touched the leg of elephant and told it is like a tree. The third one touched the trunk of elephant and told it is like a big rock. This is actually how we see things. At certain point, when you think of your retirement you feel it as a stressful situation and at some other point, you will find it as a time to do something of your own interest. The problem changes based on our view and that is the reason why we need to consider all the aspects of the problem.
Steps in assessing a problem:
Feel yourself calm and relaxed. You may find it difficult to feel relaxed when you are in a crisis. So go to your favourite place where you used to be free and relaxed. Take few deep breaths and settle yourself.
Take a pen and a book ( Diary ) to note down the important things. Think of the problem and try to see it from different points of view. Take down important points in your book as you get them.
Sometimes you may not be able to think clearly as you will be tensed. In this case go to your best friend, or your wife or someone you trust the most and share your problem with them. Discuss it in detail and try to discover the problem as a whole and take down in your note book.
Plan of action:
Once you have completed your assessment phase, it is time to find out the solutions to it. Find out the solutions and its possible effects or expected outcomes and note them down on your book. Make yourself more confident and believe that you can solve the problem with these solutions.
At this time you implement your planned actions. Note down how you did it in your book. Complete all your planned actions and feel yourself relaxed.
Now you evaluate the actions. Make a note of the effects of your actions, side effects and the present condition of the problem after the implementation. This gives a clear idea of the success or failure of the solutions and gives more clue to the actions to be done in future and a clear view of your problem.
Based on your result, you may need some modifications to your plan of actions or you may have to try some new methods to solve the problem. So re-planning is essential if your previous attempts fails to solve the issue. Do not think that you cannot solve it as you have failed at the first attempt. failure is the first step in the way to success. When you do a re-planning, you will have a more detailed view of your problem and more ideas to solve it. So keep trying until you solve the issue.
Things to keep in mind while you face a crisis:
Always think that the present problem is just temporary and you are going to settle down the issue fast and everything will become normal.
Do not think about the past, when you have a crisis. Most of the people think about how beautiful the life was in the past and compare it with the present life. This will make you more depressed and increase your anxiety.
Always think about the future when you settle down the issue and the life become easy and more happy.
Understand that when you solve your problem, you will become more strong and powerful. Problems are not harmful but are fruitful when you solve them. You will learn new things and be more strong that you can face and solve them with ease in future.
Do not try to run away from the situations. If you do not solve them now, they are going to cause more trouble in future. So now is the best time to solve them.
A problem is actually an opportunity.
All questions have an answer and all problems have a solution.
Anxiety never allows you to think properly. So manage the anxiety first.
Think of the best outcome rather than the worst consequences.
Accept that there is a problem, and you have to solve them.
Important factors contributing to successful management of crisis:
Realistic perception of the event.
Adequate situational support
Adequate coping abilities.
When you have a crisis, get support from your loved ones. Feel relaxed and avoid anxiety. Clear thinking is essential to find solutions and anxiety cause lack of thinking abilities. If you have tried all these methods and failed, consult a professional who can help you solve the problem. Never be reluctant to get help from others. Always take care to avoid escapism.