You are Your Own Best Medicine!

by Mark Sichel, LCSW with Alicia L. Cervini

When people come to me in crisis, the first thing I ask them is, "What has helped you in the past?"

When crises hit, if we are not equipped to deal with them, we tend to revert back to unhealthy behaviors and actions: panic, anger, anxiety, depression, compulsion, etc. It is difficult to stay on healthy and happy psychological paths if we allow ourselves to emotionally crash and burn when crises come along.

Crises, of course, come in many different shapes and sizes. By thinking back to what has helped during similar crises you've encountered in the past -- be they related to depression, anxiety, interpersonal difficulties, fears, moods, family life, marriage or work -- you can implement a personally helpful technique, like Jack* does.

In the middle of his workday, Jack is having trouble thinking and focusing. When he realizes it's 2 p.m. and hasn't eaten anything since breakfast, he grabs a sandwich and once again can think and function effectively.

On another day, Jack has been fighting with his girlfriend and his mother is having a health crisis. He's certain that his job is in jeopardy because he's behind in his work and he's feeling run down and tired because his stress level is making it difficult for him to sleep at night. Jack finds himself unable to think and focus on his work midday. Because he is stressed, overwhelmed and confused, it never occurs to him that he's hungry and out of fuel.

Luckily, Jack has recently compiled a "What-Has-Helped-in-the-Past" List. Thoroughly frustrated and at his wit's end, Jack pulls out his List and sees that remembering to eat when he's stressed out always enables him to cope better. Jack grabs a bite to eat. While the problems that confront Jack certainly do not go away, Jack finds himself calmer, more energized and better able to deal with the situation at hand.

So for all of you Jacks and Jills -- and that includes most of -- here's a tool that's sure to help: My What-Has-Helped-in-the-Past List.

Review this list and check off items that have helped you to recover from depression, anxiety, interpersonal difficulties or stress in the past. Then click on the box marked "My Crisis Medicine" and you will receive a printout of a personal "What-Has-Helped-in-the-Past" list.

In order to keep your crisis medicine handy, please click here for a selection of healthy and natural tools for crises.

*The names of all clients have been changed to protect their identities.


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