Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes when your situation takes an unexpected turn for the worse, it can be difficult to know what to do next.
A crisis in one area of your life can begin to affect you in lots of different ways; for example bereavement or illness can have serious financial implications, while a redundancy might also impact your personal relationships. The stress caused by such experiences can become overwhelming and it’s easy to let your physical and mental health suffer as a result.
While some things are outside your control, there are simple steps you can take to look after yourself.
We spoke to Emma – a psychotherapist with over ten years’ experience and the Clinical Lead of our counselling service – who gave us her top tips on taking care of yourself during times of personal crisis.
Make healthy choices
When facing personal challenges, it can be tempting to let your usual routine fall apart and slip into bad habits.
Skipping meals and not getting enough sleep can make you feel fatigued, cause mood swings, and make it harder to function. Try to stick to a healthy balanced diet and regular meal times to help maintain your blood sugar levels and improve concentration. If you’re struggling to sleep, try to unwind before bedtime with relaxing activities such as a warm bath, listening to music, reading or meditation.
Exercise is also a great way to help boost your mood, self-esteem and energy levels. It doesn’t have to be too strenuous; simply walking more or taking the stairs can make a huge difference!
Take time for yourself
When you are in the midst of a chaotic period of time it might seem indulgent to take time for yourself to do something you love, but it is incredibly important for your mental health.
If you are feeling particularly low, you might not feel like doing things you usually enjoy, but engaging with your favourite hobbies can really lift your mood, create a sense of achievement, increase your motivation and bring back a feeling of normality.
Keep in touch
It is easy to become distant and isolated when faced with challenging problems, but having good relationships with others is one of the most important ways to improve and maintain good mental health. Talking about how you are feeling can help you to gain perspective on your situation and make you feel less alone.
Make sure you keep in touch with your loved ones – as much for their wellbeing as your own. If you feel uncomfortable about becoming the focus of your conversations, try to find out what is going on in their lives.
Ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help, whether you are struggling at home or at work. If you are struggling with day-today tasks or responsibilities, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. Remember that the people around you probably want to help – they just might not know how. Accepting help not only takes some pressure off of you, it also makes people feel useful.
Talk to a professional
If you are struggling emotionally, make sure that you speak to someone. You may have friends or family with whom you feel comfortable talking, but sometimes it can be difficult to discuss personal problems with the people who know you best.