4 Essential Strategies for Surviving a Crisis

A guide to re-connecting with your strongest self.

There is probably no experience one can go through more stressful than having a child in crisis.  Watching a child hurt themselves, risk their well-being, and be in pain, this is a terrifying experience for a parent.  

And every parent knows how knock-you-down draining it is to watch a child suffer; the worry, the anxiety, and the constant stress have physiological effects that are highly corrosive to your well-being.  And because addictions have complicated and drawn out patterns, the tension and stress can become long-running realities that wreak havoc on your health.

This is why looking after your self during a crisis is so important – so you can stay connected to the strongest and healthiest parts of yourself.  And as a result, be your strongest and healthiest self for your child and your family. If you can use one or all of these 4 Strategies during a crisis, you can reach deep and find your inner strength when it matters most.

1. Speak Up

Your community are your most valuable resources to lean on in times of crisis.  Be honest and share with the people closest to you.  Many of us are resistant to opening up about our struggles, we might be embarrassed or ashamed of what is going on in our family. But talking and sharing with close friends and family members is the number one way to draw on your strength.  Sharing brings you closer to the person you are communicating with, brings repressed feelings into awareness, creates feelings of release and validates your experience. 

2. Nourish

You nourish yourself every time you do something that you know is good for you – when you take time for yourself and make time for yourself. This is very difficult when a highly stressful crisis situation is unfolding, but it is absolutely powerful in recharging your strength.   Prolonged stress leads to elevated cortisol and norepinephrine levels in your body – by engaging in healthy and calming activities, you combat these toxic chemicals directly.   You can nourish yourself by going for a walk in nature, by doing a yoga class or getting a massage – what is important is that you incorporate some positive, healthy activity into your life.

3. Journal

We tend to think of journaling as an activity for children, but this misses the value of the practice.  Journaling is an extremely powerful practice.   When you journal, you give yourself permission to express your deepest feelings, thoughts and fears.  In doing this, you validate and bring awareness to your experience, you gain insight and perspective – you build strength and self-knowledge.  Journaling is a practice, it’s a muscle that gets stronger and more effective the more you use it.  So start slowly, begin spending five minutes writing things down: what’s going on, what are you thinking, how it all feels.  You will notice how much clarity and strength journaling brings to your life after just a few sessions.

4. Give

There is nothing like giving to ground you in positive emotions.  Giving comes in many forms. You are giving anytime you are consciously doing something for others for no reason other than to spread joy, compassion and love. You can offer to help someone who you know needs assistance, or you can sign up for a volunteer opportunity (they are endless).  Giving connects you to others, it gets you out of your own head, it can give you perspective, and it will definitely help connect you with your deepest, inner strength. 

We all face challenging situations in our lives. Our journey isn’t about avoiding tough, difficult experiences, they are going to happen, to everybody – to all of us, at one time or another.  If you can practice strategies like these when times are at their most difficult, you will be much better able to help yourself, your family and the world around you.


Drug and alcohol addiction is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Since 1990, the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC) clinical team have excelled at helping adolescents and their families find their way out of the desperately hopeless pit of addiction. A leader in the field of addiction recovery, AARC continues to help youth and restore families through our fully accredited and internationally recognized treatment program in the heart of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.