Hello, and welcome to your Emergency Action Plan (EAP)!
This is an activity completed during the Wellness Recovery Action Plan curriculum, to be used in the event of an acute crisis.
The EAP should be used if there is a clearly uncontrolled and declining state, to help cause a recentering of self and put a stop to the descent. Follow the brief steps below to, hopefully, restore functionality.
Step 1: Deflate the Acute Emotions
Your pulse is quick and maybe you FEEL a lot of hot emotions right now. They are right in the front of your mind and situated there squarely. Don’t worry, things always start this way. Emotions, when they happen, are big up front, and flat on the finish. In this step, I want you to keep that in mind as you just breathe for a few minutes. Grab a timer and set it for 10 minutes… during which, you are to do nothing but sit still and focus on taking regular measured breaths. Remain with the breath. Follow it, feel it, understand it. When some distracting element is introduced, just turn your attention from your breath to it for a moment. Recognize what it is, and then focus back on your breathing. The thing that distracted you got what it wanted, attention, and will now dissipate. Continue in solemn meditation for the entirety of the ten minute timer.
Step 2: Remember Yourself
Now that we are not residing in the metaphorical “fry pan” of emotional urgency, you can sit with your now dulled emotion and attempt to comprehend its reasons for being. Even if there is no logical explanation, in this step, you are identifying the root of the feeling that interrupted your functionality. This will alert you to one of two possibilities: 1) You are experiencing emotional instability as a direct result of brain neurochemestry, and not because of any outside factor. Or 2) there is a reason you feel this way, in which case, you need to identify what that is and pay some close attention to it. Is this a realistic reaction? Am I making a big deal out of a misunderstanding? Was I intentionally hurt, and if so, what then?
Step 3: Be There For ME
In this step, you are acknowledging your emotions, and giving them validation as real, yours, and not to be treated without respect. It is imperative that you honestly believe even your most unrealistic feelings have every right to be heard. They are ALL YOURS, and therefore, important and special. Give them some attention, that’s what they seek. Once you have understood and sympathized with yourself, a transition into stability will begin to occur. This may take time, and require you to revisit the calming steps in case emotional output gets to be too much. Try and talk to yourself here, reason with your emotions. Once calm, they are surprisingly receptive to discourse.
Step 4: Learning
Take something of worth from your struggle. In the end, you could do it because you have a learned experiential database of all the previous emotions you have been through, and survived despite hardship. You have done this before, you will do this again in the future. It’s like a wave that crashes. It will recede, but crash again, and recede… that’s the nature of your disorder. It will be a never-ending cycle, and you must learn that despite the pain of the moment of feeling, that sharpness will wear itself dull, and eventually become nothing. Feelings that hurt don’t have the staying power of well reasoned, rational responses. Whichever emotion you deal with, always remember where you have been, and where you have yet to go. Be kind and forgive yourself for being here. It’s hard enough without YOU beating yourself over it.
Step 5: Recenter and Resume
Now that you have processed the moment of trauma or the trigger is less acute, you have successfully dealt with a crisis without escalation, and hopefully, with some form of resolution or thought given to the source of the upheaval. Your process is nearly concluded as you go through the final steps of understanding, then resuming life where it was last on the tracks. It truly is fine if your train goes astray, because now you know, eventually, it will be going straight again. There is no emotional trauma you cannot overcome with the help of this tool, or at the very least, the additional presence of someone to keep you safe while you process your feelings. Good job getting to this point, and see you next crisis!