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12 Ways to Take Care of Yourself During and After a Crisis
by Heidi Baumgartner

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Taking care of yourself during a crisis often takes a backseat while you are dealing with the crisis situation. A crisis brings extra stress to your body and it is important to keep up your emotional, physical and spiritual health.

Here are 12 ways to help you manage your personal stress during and after a crisis situation:

1. Pray. These may be short prayers of, “God, help me,” or longer prayers asking God for wisdom, endurance, and grace as you go through this crisis. Keep praying throughout the crisis. Ask a trusted, confidence-keeping prayer partner to intercede and pray for you during this time of crisis. They do not need to know the full details of the situation, but they can know that you are in a period of time where you are in extra need of prayer. Make arrangements with your prayer partner ahead of time so you can send a quick email or text saying, “Prayers needed” or something similar so they know to jump into a “crisis prayer mode.”

2. Breathe. Take a series of deep breaths. Get extra oxygen into your system. Calm your nerves. Pray again.

3. Exercise or Stretch. If you have time, take 30- or 60-minutes for aerobic exercise. Get your heart rate up. Break a sweat. Physically let go of the crisis situation. If you do not have time to exercise, take a few moments to stretch your back, neck and shoulders. Touch your toes. Do some jumping jacks. Stretch your calves.

4. Nutrition. You may not have time to prepare and eat healthy meals. Ask a family member, trusted friend or colleague to bring you healthy meals and/or snacks. Drink plenty of water. Skip junk food as much as possible. Give your body good nutrition to keep moving forward.

5. Shower. As time allows, squeeze in a shower. Wash away the stress, the anxiety, the fears, the worries, the problems. Pray as you shower and ask God to baptize you anew with His Holy Spirit and to give you renewed wisdom in dealing with this crisis. Showering at night will help you go to sleep feeling clean and whole. Change into clean clothes and step forward with confidence that God is on your side.

6. Sleep. Sleep can be rare during a crisis. If you do have a chance to crawl into bed, your mind is likely racing with thoughts of what still needs to be done or what else you need to do. Pray and ask God to help you turn off your mind and find peaceful, rejuvenating sleep. Ask a trusted family member or friend to monitor your cell phone and allow you a pocket of time for undisturbed sleep.

7. Read through the Psalms. David fought many enemies, and the passages of Psalms particularly resonate during times of crisis. Consider the promises of Psalm 139: God knows when I come and go. He knows my thoughts from afar. He knows what I’m going to say before I do. God’s right hand will hold me fast. He will cleanse me from the trauma and memories (anxious thoughts) of this crisis. God will lead me in the way everlasting.

8. Laugh. Ask a family member or trusted friend to send you corny jokes or cartoons. Laughing helps take your mind off the situation and gives you renewed perspective. The crisis won’t last forever. The laughter will be good for your soul.

9. Attitude. Every day you have a choice about your attitude. Choose to keep a healthy attitude throughout the crisis situation. Sin has caused so much heartache in this world. You do not need to be a “savior” or “super person.” You are not a victim of the crisis trauma. You are a victor in Jesus Christ. This attitude will trickle into how you react and interact with the situation…and with your family.

10. Debrief. Take time to debrief with your crisis team. You’ve just come through a major or minor crisis. Talk about what worked, what didn’t work and what could be done better. Talk about new policies or procedures that need to be developed and implemented. Take time to talk, to laugh, to heal together. This core group understands what you’ve been through and can help you move forward.

11. Seek counseling. We suggest counseling for others during a crisis, but we often don’t consider it for ourselves. If you’ve been through a traumatic or dramatic crisis situation, seek counseling for yourself. Find the help you need. Meet with a Christian counselor. Learn how to forgive yourself, forgive others and forgive the situation. Ask God to give you healing down to the very cells of your body and to erase the memories of trauma.

    Pray:    Dear Jesus—

I purpose and choose to forgive [this person and/or this situation]. This was a difficult situation for me, and I choose by Your power to forgive [this person and/or this situation] for the extra stress and trauma that resulted. I release [this person and/or this situation] and cancel their debt to me.
In the name of Jesus, I cancel all of Satan’s authority over me in this memory because it is forgiven.

In the name of Jesus and by the power of His blood, I command the spirits of stress, trauma, fear, resentment, anger and bitterness to go.

Holy Spirit, come and heal my mind, body and soul. Erase the traumatic memories of this situation. Release the memory triggers down to the cells of my body.
Show me Your Truth about this situation. Amen. [Listen for what God tells you.]

12. Choose to heal. The crisis is over. You’ve taken care of your emotional, physical and spiritual health. You asked God to guard your attitude. Now…choose to heal and move forward. Healing may be instantaneous or it may take some time for your wounds to heal. Be gentle with yourself and allow God to heal you.

Heidi Baumgartner is communication director for the Washington Conference.  This presentation was originally shared at the Society of Adventist Communicator’s convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 24, 2013, as part of a Crisis Boot Camp training session. Shared with permission