Coping During Crisis: Ways to Cope

by Paula Leslie

The horrific images of jets ripping into the World Trade Center and The Pentagon remain with us. The magnitude of that event has sent the nation into mourning.

During the grief process it may be helpful to know about the phases of grief. The grief process has 5 Stages.

1. Denial and Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

If we don't acknowledge our loss, crippling long-term psychological as well as physical symptoms are likely to occur.

REMEMBER When your nervous system is overwhelmed you may feel anxious, irritable, depressed or angry. This is a normal reaction to something as traumatic as the recent incidents. Stay involved with productive projects at work or home. Taking action is a wonderful remedy whenever we feel powerless or out of control. Do something that gives you a sense of power and involvement. An example is giving blood, donating to the Red Cross, etc. Stay connected with others.

Try to go back to your normal routine as much as possible. However, there will be times when you may not be able to focus and concentrate. At those times, pay attention to your emotions. Allow time to feel whatever emotions need expressions . By doing this, you allow healing to occur and will have more energy for your normal activities.

Coping Suggestions

Balance - whenever possible try to balance your activities Set limits for the amount of time you watch TV. It is easy to overload our nervous systems with information.

Talk with friends, family and people at work. The importance of our social network cannot be emphasized enough at this time. REMEMBER: WE NEED EACH OTHER. Make sure you don't isolate yourself. Your perspective may be worse if you withdraw from others constantly.

Feel Your Emotions - Give yourself time to express your feelings whatever they may be. It is normal have a roller-coaster ride -- one minute you feel fine and the next you may feel depressed. Sadness, anger and fear are all normal parts of the healing process.

Pets - Be sure to spend time around your pets. Dogs,cats and other pets, can soothe and calm us. My dog's humor cheers me up.

Laughter - Rent a funny video or read a humorous book.

Sleep - Get plenty of sleep. Some people will need more sleep than usual during this time. If you are having difficulty sleeping, be sure to eliminate all caffeine and sugar from your diet. If you seem to be withdrawing into sleep constantly, consider getting professional help as it can be a sign of a serious depression.

Exercise/Sports - Make sure you are getting some form of daily exercise. A 20 minute walk does wonders. Running, tennis, weights and any other vigorous activity are wonderful ways to rid yourself of tension and encourages a sense of well being. (Choose whatever works best for you).

Diet - Eat a well-balanced diet. Try to eliminate or lessen sugar and caffeine intake. Caffeine and sugar tend to make us anxious and depressed. Although those of you trying to lose weight may laugh, if you are having severe difficulty eating or if you are eating out of control, consider getting professional help.

Water - Drink plenty of water during this stressful time.

Alcohol - Limit your intake of alcohol.

Warm Baths - This is a simple way to relax.

Massage - Massage is extremely relaxing and releases tension.

Vitamins and Herbs - Maintain your regular regime.

Creative Outlets - Creative activities offer ways to express our emotional life. Painting, singing or playing music (as well as listening to music) are helpful during healing. p. 2 ‚"Coping During Crisis‚Äù

Spiritual/Religious - Prayer and faith may help during this time.

Sex - Sex is a powerful way to relax and strengthen our immune system.

Mind/Body Methods

Yoga - Meditation and stretching calms us. Meditation also can lower blood pressure.

Tai Chi - Tai Chi calms and balances our systems.

Deep Breathing - Here‚'s a Quick Fix - If you are feeling tense, take 4 deep slow breaths through your nose. Inhale into your belly and slowly exhale. Additional help comes from raising your shoulders toward your ears while inhaling and then releasing the shoulders when you exhale.

Stress Reduction Techniques - Biofeedback, Hypnosis and Visualization all help to lower anxiety.

If you still feel overwhelmed and can't get back to a somewhat normal routine, consider getting help by contacting your Human Resource Department at work or a professional counselor.

If you have other suggestions for coping, I invite you to write to me at


© 2001 Paula Leslie
Reproduction by permission only of the author.

Reprinted with permission

About the author - Paula has been a psychotherapist and organizational consultant for 23 years. One of her specialties is Stress Management and Strategies for Change. She is the author of Anger in the Workplace: A Catalyst for Change.


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