unhappy young woman sitting beside the bed

How to Navigate a Life Crisis

Life sometimes throws us a curveball. Some fine day when everything appears to be finally going our way, something unexpected can happen to us. 

Sometimes this event is fortuitous. We call that “a lucky break.” At other times, something breaks down, something important to our happiness and well-being. We call that “a life crisis.”

How you respond to this crisis could cause a breakdown or a breakthrough. Since you probably don’t need any help figuring out how to celebrate a breakthrough, let’s focus on how to navigate a life crisis. 

What Is a Life Crisis?

A life crisis is an event that causes you to lose perspective on how your life should unfold. It’s something that “throws you off your game.” 

Suddenly, your life appears to spin out of control. 

A life crisis can show up in any number of ways: 

  • It can take the form of heartbreak, the end of a loving relationship. 
  • You might experience the death of a loved one.
  • It can appear as the loss of a job.
  • Or you could feel a deep sense of betrayal by someone you trusted. 

A life crisis can also be something that you saw coming down the road. Usually, it’s a transition to a more difficult way of living. Perhaps it’s graduating from a wonderful college and then struggling to land a job that will pay off your student loan. Perhaps, it’s retiring from work that you loved, one that built your self-worth and your fortune.

How to Handle a Crisis 

Although every life crisis requires a novel approach, here are three guidelines that might prove helpful: 

1. Ask for Help

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. Often we do things better when we do things together because we share ideas, talents, and resources. So, it’s unnecessary to tough things out. Often, too, others are happy to help and have the knowledge, experience, and skills to help us.

If, for example,  you have a mood disorder, it’s difficult to be your own therapist, no matter how many self-help books you read. You can’t see your own mental defenses because you have no objectivity.  

Depending on the nature of the crisis, talking to a therapist may help you get back on your feet. At other times, you may need a more intensive form of mental health treatment; perhaps for a chronic mood disorder or substance abuse addiction that a mental health treatment in Santa Barbara like Bishop Harbor can treat effectively. 

2. Safeguard Your Recovery

After recovering from your crisis, you might still need support to sustain the bold new choices you’ve made in your life. 

If, for example, you’re returning home from an alcohol addiction treatment center, you will need an aftercare plan to help maintain sobriety. It might include finding a therapist when you get back home. It might include changing your circle of friends or lifestyle. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to hang out with the same people who loved to drink all night with you or it’s time to end a broken marriage that forced you to try and numb out your feelings.

3. Focus on What You Can Control 

After a life crisis, you may also need to change your focus. If something life-shattering happened, the fastest way to continue to heal is to focus on different things. Rather than focusing on past tragedies that you can’t control, focus on things that you can control, such as how to direct your thoughts and feelings to design a better future. 

In the final analysis, a life crisis can affect you in different ways. It can be traumatic, causing deep mental anguish or debilitating physical damage.

Conversely, it could also be a blessing in disguise, leaving you stronger than before, equipped with more mental maturity after learning invaluable life lessons that made you a better, kinder, gentler person. Following these three guidelines will help you cope with either type of life crisis.