Are You Going Through 1 Of The 5 Stages Of Crisis?

Written By

Fiona Lam

Certified neuro-emotional technique (NET) practitioner and naturopath

There’s been a lot of focus on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and the global lockdown’s impact on the economy, but what about the widespread effect it will have on our mental health? Personally, I started to feel emotionally hypersensitive and physically off-balance last week. I was bombarded with erratic nonsensical thoughts and I abandoned some of my self-care rituals…I even found myself seeking salvation in the form of a sickly-sweet pastry, extremely unusual behaviour! (Thank you, team member, that brought in those delicious Nutella-filled donuts!)

The reality is that we’re only a few weeks in, imagine the impending mental health crisis we’ll be facing over the coming months if we don’t take preventative measures now.


The 5 Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who was best known for developing the 5 stages of dealing with grief demonstrates a model that may provide some understanding as to how we react to times of crisis. It’s a blueprint that we can utilise to facilitate growth from pain. The 5 stages of grief are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Bargaining
  • Acceptance

As an observer, I believe we have in general, experienced the shock (panic buying, hoarding) amongst the denial (those downplaying recommended behavioural guidelines) and anger (frustration from the inability to buy what you need, cancelled overseas trips, events, services…)

…The next stage is depression.

I’ve been seeing a lot of signs and symptoms of depression in practice lately. I wanted to reassure you that it’s okay if you’re experiencing depression and it’s also okay to feel:

  • Out of control because everything as you knew it has changed
  • Lonely from being socially isolated for a prolonged period of time
  • Bored that activities that you’re limited to lack meaning to you
  • Stuck because you’re contained in the same four walls for days on end
  • Insecure about your finances and other survival needs
  • Overwhelmed from being busier than ever trying to simultaneously manage your work and family life
  • Lost not knowing how long the uncertainty will last
  • Depleted from lack of regular exercise and a healthy diet
  • Unmotivated when there’s so much that needs to be done
  • Not good enough because you can’t seem to achieve anything
  • Helpless for others that are going through a hard time
  • Hopeless about how things can get better


…It’s perfectly normal to feel all of this and more.

What I find people are struggling with is not knowing how to allow themselves the space to process their emotions in a healthy way. Some find it difficult to move past these emotional stages because they perceive them to be “negative” or may even judge them as “a sign of weakness”Others feel determined that it’s their responsibility to stay “positive” or “strong” for the people around them no matter how much they’re struggling themselves. All of which can keep us in a holding pattern of grief.


Surviving The Mental Health Crisis

If you relate to any emotions on the list above, an effective antidote is connection. Acting on things that make us feel connected is what gives us the sense of being in control even when things are out of our control, it’s what fills our heart when we’re consumed by fear, and it’s what satisfies our soul when we’re feeling lost.

To get started, try the 5 tips below on how to stay connected:  Remember, consistency yields results so be gentle with yourself and focus on developing a steady habit with one of the following before adding in the other suggestions.


The Strength Of Standing Together

I know we’ll get through this, but let’s get through this in the best way possible by being aware of what stage we’re at, being aware of the stage those around are dealing with and being aware of an essential part of overcoming grief, which is to be willing to ask for help.

No one should be going at this alone. 

Ziad K. Abdelnour said it best, “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”


Crisis Doesn’t Create Character; It Reveals It

I truly believe that crises reveal our character, so I’d like to encourage each one of us to self-reflect and ask ourselves – “Who do you want to show up?”.


I Am Here For You

Once I had sufficiently made myself feel worse by being incongruent with my health priorities, I let go of the judgement that I “should be handling stress better than this” and recognised that I’ve had to adapt to some big changes. When I was able to acknowledge that, I was able to cut myself some slack, which has drastically improved my mental space.

I hope you can also allow yourself some time to accept the stage you’re in, which ultimately allows you to progress. If you’re struggling to move forward I urge you to reach out to your healthcare professionals whether that be your counsellor, psychologist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, osteopath or doctor. That’s what we’re here for.

No matter what stage of crisis you’re in, I hope that over time, you’ll be able to find meaning and appreciate more of life’s gifts throughout the changes.

Do you want guidance on connecting with what is meaningful to you? Check out 7 different ways you can do that when you sign up to ‘7 Steps To Overcome Fear and Win At Life‘.



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