Two adults and a child sitting at a kitchen table
Photo: Johner

Mental health in times of crisis

In times of crisis and when we encounter uncertainty, it is normal to experience concerns, negative thoughts, sleep disruptions, anxiety and other strong feelings. Some people are more affected by this than others. Below are some tips that can be useful for managing your own emotions and feelings, as well as for supporting others, in a crisis situation. 

  • Use your time to focus on things within your control, preferably something concrete that can help you focus your thoughts and be present in the moment.  
  • Keep to your usual routine as much as possible, such as regular meals and maintaining your personal hygiene.  
  • Seek out social contact. Contact your friends, family members and others if possible. Social contact provides us with opportunities to share our thoughts and our way of doing things.   
  • Try to think about the potentially good outcomes of a crisis – do not focus only on worst case scenarios. As humans, we tend to exaggerate the likelihood of something dangerous happening.  
  • Use breathing exercises to reduce stress. This is one of the simplest ways to calm yourself down quickly. Breathing exercises can be used by anyone, at any time, with limited practice and zero cost.  
  • Stay physically active. Exercise helps prevent depression and anxiety, and it helps you focus on the here and now. 
  • Prevent sleep disruption. Get up and go to bed on a regular schedule. Try to avoid sleeping during the day, seek out daylight, and make sure the room is not too warm when you are sleeping.  
  • Try to eat a varied, healthy diet. Avoid getting too much caffeine, limit the use of alcohol/drugs, and make sure you are hydrated.   
  • Take time to bring some humour into your day. Humour relieves stress and can be very helpful in stressful situations.  
  • Seek help and support. Don’t keep major concerns to yourself. There are many different volunteer organizations that can help. You can also call the mental health hotline at 116 123.  
  • Take the time to listen to children’s concerns. Try to be honest, but do not give them information that could scare them.  
  • Keep to information that is based on fact, provided by the authorities.   

This advice about mental health in times of crisis has been provided by the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Services and the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

Please see the Directorate of Health’s guide Psykososiale tiltak ved kriser, ulykker og katastrofer (in Nowegian) for more information. 

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