How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge

Difficult events like the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the breakup of a relationship can make you feel like your life is falling apart.

Even a looming work deadline can trigger a mental crisis that is difficult to deal with.

These periods of crisis and challenge can make you feel like you have lost control – wreaking havoc on your mental and physical health.

Fortunately, techniques like mindfulness are available to hep you get through these times of crisis and challenge.

Mindfulness can help you process your thoughts and emotions in a calm and semi-detached way.

This will help you communicate effectively, make good decisions, and deal with any disputes that have arisen during a crisis.

In this post, I’ll explain how mindfulness can help and share how to use mindfulness techniques during moments of stress.

What happens during times of crisis and challenge?

When you are faced with a challenging situation, you will experience stress – a kind of nervous tension that brings about discomfort.

Stress can trigger a fight-or-flight response, where you are compiled to either run away or prepare for a fight.

This leads to a variety of physiological changes that affect your physical and mental health.

Times of crisis and challenge can also lead to:

Emotional exhaustion

If you have exhausted yourself emotionally, you may begin to feel detached and unable to give anymore of your energy to a problem.

Feelings of anger and frustration

It’s common for crisis to cause people to become angry or intolerant of others.

Difficulty communicating and making decisions

The stress response changes how your brain processes information.

You may find it harder to learn new information, communicate with others and make good decisions.

Feelings of insecurity and fragility are common

Traumatic events can make you feel like your life is spiralling out of control which can lead to negative feelings like insecurity and fragility.

A variety of physical symptoms

The stress response can also trigger other physical symptoms like difficulty sleeping, aches and pains, poor digestion, and changes to appetite.

Using mindfulness to deal with crisis and conflict

During times of crisis and challenge, your mental state may become somewhat confused and divided.

You may find yourself lost in your thoughts, thinking about traumatic events that happened in the past or potentially difficult situations that may happen in the future.

This can lead to feelings of anxiety and emotional distress.

Mindfulness helps by bringing your attention to the present so you aren’t constantly ruminating about past or future events.

It can be achieved using several techniques that involve concentrating on your present surroundings or bodily sensations in a non-judgemental way.

The act of focussing your attention on the present is a very effective way to relieve stress that occurs during moments of crisis.

It can also give you more control over your thoughts – which makes it easier to process any unhelpful thoughts that pop into your heads.

Your mind will be much clearer after practicing mindfulness, which makes it easier to communicate, show empathy, and stay calm in stressful situations.

You will also find it easier to detach yourself from unhelpful emotions.

Mindfulness techniques can be very effective when performed shortly after or during a stressful situation.

Let’s say you are at work and your boss calls you into the office.

They immediately start berating you because a project you are working on has been delayed.

Perhaps it’s not your fault that the project is delayed, it may be caused by a third party.

However, you still experience a lot of stress during the encounter.

The meeting ends with your boss demanding that you solve certain problems with the project and meet a new deadline.

During the discussion with your boss, you will probably notice changes to your body.

Your muscles may tense up and you might find it difficult to concentrate.

This is the stress response kicking in.

Your emotions may also begin to impact how you respond to your boss and make it difficult to communicate effectively.

Shortly After the meeting, your thoughts might become more negative.

You might blame yourself or be angry towards your boss.

There may also be some “what if” thoughts and imaginary scenarios popping into your head as you become anxious about the future.

Will you get fired?

What happens if the deadline is missed again?

What will your co-workers think of you?

These thoughts are generally unhelpful and won’t help you deal with the challenge in front of you.

Using mindfulness can help you avoid spiralling out of control in this scenario.

After the meeting, take a moment to be still and focus on your breathing.

This will bring your mind to the present moment instead of focussing on negative emotions, “what if’s” and negative thoughts that may have popped into your head after the meeting.

As you breathe, you may notice some of those negative thoughts pushing their way back into the forefront of your mind.

That’s to be expected.

Acknowledge those thoughts as they appear, then re-focus on your breathing.

After a few minutes, you will realise that you are more relaxed and feeling very calm.

It will become easier to think creatively, communicate with others, and solve problems. 

Using mindfulness in this way can turn times of crisis and challenge into opportunities for growth.

By focussing your mind on the present, you can gain more control over your thoughts — helping you act in a deliberate and thoughtful way that is not entirely driven by emotion.

Thanks for reading How to Use Mindfulness in Times of Crisis and Challenge.

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author: Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a leading international and domestic tax consultant who specialises in solving complex problems. As well as advising on tax matters, Stephen also enjoys exploring topics relating to physical and mental wellbeing. You can follow him on Twitter at SColeclough.


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