4 Steps that Help in an Emotional Crisis

You’ve likely chosen to read this blog because you’d be the first to admit, “I’m an emotional wreck at this moment! I’m carrying around a hundred-pound duffle bag without rollers. My life is full of clutter that I wish would go away!” 

I know about that duffle bag. As a former single mom, I used to tug it around, too. My suitcase was stuffed with weariness from making all the daily decisions MYSELF. I was frazzled because I never planned to be a solo parent, brokenhearted because of this new role thrust upon me, and worried because I wanted to ensure my children’s well-being. Many of you could add to my list: financial stress, fear of the unknown, co-parenting friction, health strain, anxiety trauma, exhaustion depletion, and MORE. 

When we’re overwhelmed by riding this emotional rollercoaster, it’s easy for our feelings to become the authority of our emotional wellness. But feelings are as reliable as cotton candy. However, it’s possible to stabilize them moment-by-moment with these four, intentional steps. 

l. Breathe deeply. Most adults breathe from the chest, which is known as shallow breathing. But when you breathe deeply through your nose and downward to your stomach, your lungs take in more oxygen, which causes you to exhale more carbon dioxide. This activity naturally “resets” your body to a more relaxed state. By breathing deeply four to six breaths per minute and repeating this exercise up to ten times, you’ll feel a momentary release of negative tension and give your brain space to think straight. 

2. Make a list. When our uncertainties rage out of control, it opens the door for excessive anxiety. It’s easy to bring tomorrow’s challenges into today’s survival mode. Instead, make a list of what is most urgent and leave the rest for later. After all, you can only do so much in a 24-hour period. Jesus knew our struggle and instructed, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring its own worries.” This discipline will enable you to make wise daily decisions about what’s most urgently at hand. 

3. Find a godly accountability partner. When you’re in an emotional crisis, every decision you make feels shaky and clouded by looming fears, harassing anger, shock, or other destructive feelings. It’s important to find someone you trust: a godly parent, friend, relative—someone who can see your dilemma from a clearer perspective. For a single mom, it needs to be a godly couple or female friend. God has placed in your sphere someone who can serve as a guiding light. When I was a new single mom in crisis, I reconnected with a married couple from my college years that helped me navigate my choices. This couple was objective—not emotionally traumatized as I was—and had sharp, godly insight to offer. 

4. Remember that God is still in control. Like me, perhaps you never imagined you’d be in this spot. But God always knew this day would come. And because your understanding is limited—and because he is the sovereign God who knows your past, present, AND FUTURE—you can trust his will, his Word, and his timing. In Job 37 Elihu asked Job if he knew “the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge.” This verse contains a starting point for understanding the vastness of God’s knowledge. Though we don’t know all the answers, HE does. Though we don’t know how we’ll survive, HE does. Though we worry about our kids and don’t know what to do next, HE does. He is still in control, and he will see you through as you lean on him. 

Friend, I know you wonder if this day will pass. It will. But in the meanwhile God is with you and will enable you to walk through this crisis. Trust him. Take one day at a time and lean on his Word. GOD IS FAITHFUL. 

Additional resources are available on the Arise Ministries website. Check out the Bible Study “Lighten Up—Unpacking Heavy Emotions” and the book The Single Mom and Her Rollercoaster Emotions. 

Survival Scriptures of Hope

Peace for uncertainties…

  • Jeremiah 32:27 – “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” 

Assurance when fearful…

  • Isaiah 43: 1-2 – But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Strength when worried…

  • Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Healing from hurt…

  • Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Protection from evil…

  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3 – But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

Assured of God’s Love…

  • Romans 8:38-39 – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Confident in God’s Plans…

  • Psalm 138:8 – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Filled with Love for God and others…

  • Mark 12:30-31 – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Pam Kanaly

About Pam Kanaly

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I’d have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.