Positive Energy 409 - Extreme Stress Emergency Kit
Experts encourage us on a regular basis to prepare ourselves for disasters, natural and otherwise. We're usually encouraged to have a 3 day food supply, a gallon of water per day per person, purifying tablets or a portable water filter, flashlight, and a first aid kit among other things.
Imagine for a minute a person or family with a well stocked kit versus someone who has nothing prepared. One family is going to have a completely different experience than the other.
Today I want to talk about another kind of essential emergency kit. I'd like you to consider a plan of action for those days where everything seems to go horribly wrong in your life.
Having a collection of tools already at hand when your nerves, finances, energy, time, health and sometimes sanity are pushed to the limit will make a huge difference in your life and that of your family. Can you remember how you felt the last time you had one of those days?
We can always plan for the best while preparing for the worst. We each experience life differently but certain events can feel catastrophic especially when they seem to come out of nowhere. Have you ever experienced any of the following?
Loss of a job/work
Death in the family or a close friend
Physical attack or property theft/damage
Harassment by neighbors, boss or workmates
Diagnosis of a serious medical condition
Divorce or breakup
Maybe I didn't specifically list your "worst day ever" scenario but you know exactly what I'm talking about. That event that makes your skin crawl, that keeps you up night after night and saps everything you've got emotionally. Feeling stressed out also puts a strain on social and family connections, how tuned in can you be to other people's feelings when you're unable to process your own? It can become like a virus that infects whole families and communities of people.
The good news is that the more successfully we handle these situations, the stronger and more prepared we'll be for the next "emotional emergency". Each time we successfully meet our challenges, we build up resilience, creative problem solving and a sturdy constitution that is not easily damaged.
What kinds of things will help us maintain our balance when going through extreme emotional distress? What should our emergency stress kit look like? I'd like to encourage you to put down on paper what your current methods are for maintaining the following:
Sadly, most of these items get pushed aside in moments of extreme pressure as things you don't have time or energy for. When you're feeling extreme pressure, that's when you need these things more than ever.
- Good sleep hygiene habits
- Immune boosting tools
- Techniques to keep our thinking clear, rational and effective
- A moral support system
- Quiet and Solitude
- Physical Activity/Movement
Putting it down on paper will reveal your weak spots, strong spots and give you a fresh reminder of what beneficial things you already know and use. You're in a powerful place when you familiarize yourself with these ideas and habits well before your next major life challenge. Each of these items on the list is deeply connected with stress management and resilience. If you look at the list and see an item you're not familiar with or don't understand it's relation to stress, perhaps that's a sign that you could benefit from learning more.
Understand each item, maintain tools that strengthen the habits, practice them and become proficient enough that you not only withstand extreme stress but have enough energy to help someone else avoid a mental meltdown.
Let's take the first item on the list as an example. If you treat sleep like something expendable during relatively peaceful times, you are sure to have a hard time getting rest when you need it most. If you are currently maintaining good sleep hygiene habits now, you will already be familiar with how to get the best rest when threatened with insomnia. Here's a peek at my sleep hygiene "must haves":
1) Avoid watching news, disturbing movies, paying bills or having emotionally charged conversations or fights right before bed. Does anyone think watching the news before bed is going to increase peace of mind?
2) Slowly turning down/dimming lights at least an hour before bedtime. Candles are nice too.
3) Avoid eating large meals before bed.
4) Playing a white noise machine to block out street noise and the sirens from the fire station a block away.
5) Turn off my cell phone completely, no lights from alarms or other electronics. Black out curtains on the windows. I keep a landline for emergency phone calls and cell phones can be placed on silent while you designate the phone to ring with certain numbers in case of emergency or with repeated calls. I find having the light from an alarm clock where I can see the time ticking away makes me less restful. I haven't had a clock like that for decades.
6) When I can't sleep I still lay in bed to rest but I have some earbuds ready with soft music or an audiobook with a very soft spoken narrator. I keep these things in my nightstand at all times. Although I rarely need them, I don't want to have to search for them in the middle of the night. I usually get some sleep eventually when listening to a mellow audiobook. At the very least I don't stay up pacing or watching the clock, I just try to let my body relax even if I have to distract my mind. Trying to force sleep to come usually is counterproductive.
I share my list just for a bit of inspiration, you may build yours very differently. The point is to keep excellent health habits now, have a backup plan for when they feel harder to keep and to learn to see each tidal wave that hits as an opportunity to increase your creativity, stress management skills and resilience.
We can safely predict that along with laughter and joy, 2018 is bound to include at least a few tears. My wish is that it will be an amazing year and you will be fully equipped to handle all that comes your way in the most elegant, creative and effective way possible.
"There is no short cut to achievement. Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything" - George Washington Carver
"Stress is the trash of modern life. We all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." - Danzae Pace
" When forced, as it seems, by circumstances into utter confusion, get a hold of yourself quickly. Don't be locked out of the rhythm any longer than necessary. You'll be able to keep the beat if you are constantly returning to it." - Marcus Aurelius
If this discussion has created a spark in you to learn more, I recommend the following books:
Stresscraft: A Whole-life Approach to Health and Performance by Frank Forencich (This man is brilliant)
Start Here: A Simple Guide to healthy, energetic living by Rebecca Maldonado (A collection of notes to myself on how to stay on a healthy path. I often re-read it for inspiration and reminders.)
Buy Start Here
AntiFragile: Things that gain from disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (This will help you to see opportunities in the challenges)
Buy Anti fragile
All the Best,