Christmas morning brought a whole new level of crisis to my home. A major medical emergency transpired and I spent most of Christmas Day at the hospital in crisis mode. My life was in crisis.
We are still dealing with the after-effects of this life crisis. My family will be fine and we will weather this storm, but how do you navigate such a situation? How do you instill emotional resiliency and pull a family together?
I don’t want to get too public about my personal life as I blog about our journey here at A One-Room Schoolhouse, but “life in crisis” is a very frequent topic of concern among home school and public school parents alike.
As a school psychologist, teacher, mother, and disciple of Christ these are my best tips for weathering a life crisis. I am sure I don’t have all the answers. My family, my school, and my faith are all still works in progress. Here is what I have learned; please add your wisdom in the comments section. (Scripture references are from the King James Version of the Bible.)
Weathering The Storm
- Live by faith and not by fear. In Isaiah 41:10 it says, “Fear not, for I am with thee.” Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties and approach life with a positive outlook. Remind yourself that God is always with you and your family. Return to your faith when fear begins to overtake.
- Just like the coal that through intense heat and pressure is changed to a diamond, we are also refined through our trials. 2 Corinthians 12:10 says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” When we are at our weakest, we become our strongest.
- God often teaches us His greatest truths when we are asked to suffer. Hebrews 5:8 “… yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”
- Pray. Need I say more.
- Take daily time with God’s words. Search them diligently for inspiration, comfort, and love. Take time to ponder.
- People become more resilient when they understand and accept these two facts: First, trails are an inevitable part of life. Second, obtaining anything of great worth often requires great sacrifice. Life is challenging and ever-changing, but you can cope with those challenges and changes. Mistakes and weaknesses are opportunities to learn. Often losing precedes winning.
- Perfectionism is not helpful. One thing that hinders the development of resilience is a misunderstanding of the commandment to be perfect. “The Lord works through weak, simple servants and striving to be perfect does not mean we never make mistakes but rather that we become fully developed or complete through the Atonement of Christ as we strive to follow Him.” (Lyle J. Burrup)
- Return to familiar routines as soon as possible. Familiarity provides stability and continuity and will reduce traumatic stress. With this in mind, it is a good idea to ease back into rigors expectations. Start with a short day or lighter expectations in terms of academics, chores and overall performance.
- Maintain connections to mental health services, religious supports, medical assistance, and family/friends networks. Do not give in to the temptation to isolate. Reach out for help and support. Seek the services your family needs.
- Monitor each family member’s reaction to the trauma,including your own. Reactions may be delayed and manifest it in odd ways. Behavior problems, sleep difficulties, physical sicknesses, and poor emotional regulations can all be part of the trauma reaction. Give yourself and your family a lot of grace.
- Communicate. Give everyone involved space to communicate. Slow down and provide time to talk, draw, sing, pray, walk, read, snuggle, and play together. Children especially need time and space to communicate what they are feeling. Often that is not by talking but by play.
- Actively engage in self-care. You are a model to those around you of how to take care of yourself when a crisis occurs. Maintain a healthy diet, get enough sleep, take breaks, and get exercise. Above all, take lots of deep breathes.
- Take care of emotional health: know your limitations and be aware of your personal signs that you might need to step back and get more help. Practicing your religious faith can provide comfort and calm. Taking time to engage in hobbies and creative activities. Other ideas might include using calming self-talk, soothing music, or visualization. Teach your family to do these things too. Better yet, do these things as a family!
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” (C.S.Lewis)
When difficulties beset us, life can be thrown into chaos. Goals are derailed, routines set off schedule, and emotions run wild. Take time to heal. Set aside the to-do list. Give your self grace.
What healing items would you add to this list? I would love to hear your suggestions.