I saw a cartoon the other day that really got me thinking. It was a simple drawing of a really upset person standing next to their house, which was on fire. Next to this person was someone (who looked like an exercise instructor or relaxation guru) saying “OK, let’s work on centering your breathing now.”
Obviously, during a crisis like a burning house, relaxation breathing to manage stress is not the answer. In the moment, we need to put out the fire.
In this blog I’ve been talking a lot about stress management and how to take care of yourself and those you care about when the challenges of life pile up. Those worries and stressors that are chronically present (prices, weather, costs, labor) can eat a farmer up and make them sick. Things like SAFER (Sleep, Eat right and drink lots of water, Focus on positives, Exercise, and Reach out to others) help manage the symptoms of stress and protect your health.
Don’t Try to Handle a Crisis Alone
But sometimes something hits that is big—a crisis rather than one of the chronic worries. Maybe it’s a hurricane, or a fire, or an injury. At that point, you need more than SAFER (though it is still important to do as much of SAFER as you can while dealing with the crisis—you still need to eat and sleep!)
The CDC describes a crisis as a time where an event causes “unbearable anxiety…with urgent need to end the emotional pain. A person in crisis is unable to solve problems or process information rationally without help.” (See article here )
The key here is that during a crisis you can’t handle it alone. This isn’t the time to be strong and silent. During and after a crisis, everyone needs help.
Problem-Solvers and Trusted Companions
Through a crisis we all need two kinds of help—people who can help us solve the problem, and people who can help us process the information and feelings around us. If you have a fire, you need first responders, and later insurance agents, financial advisors, contractors, etc. to solve the problem of your damaged house. You also need someone(s) you trust who can go with you to all the meetings, listen, take notes, be a second set of ears to help you process all the information you’ll be given, and give you emotional support.
So, we all need problem-solvers and trusted companions during and to recover from a time of crisis. No one can go through a crisis alone.
I truly pray that none of you have a crisis in the future. But if and when you do, I also pray that you remember to find your problem-solvers and your trusted companions, and let them help you through your crisis. Just like you’d be happy to help someone you care about, there are people who would be happy to help you. We’re all in this together.
For more information on crisis/disaster recovery, go to the Georgia Department of Agriculture Steps to Disaster Recovery page.