Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to read this! There has been an overwhelming response, and I’m grateful for your time, thoughts, prayers and support. Based on some feedback, I have added a tab that provides more information about Evan and his progress. Please feel free to offer feedback, suggestions, and ideas if you have them. I love your comments and can certainly use all the help we can get.
If you live in Austin, you were part of the great Blizzard of 2010 last week. I was on my way to a meeting on Tuesday morning and while driving on a flyover, my car spun out of control, twisting in circles and skidding in every imaginable direction and ultimately, hitting the wall. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt. Now, I would think most people would see their life or most loved friends and family flash before their eyes. Instead for me, the only thing that I could do was scream, “Oh S?%&t!!!!” After I was able to remove myself from on-coming traffic and stop my hands and knees from shaking, I was then able to gain a little perspective.
So what did I learn from this? Most importantly, I learned that everything I learned how to do in Drivers Ed flew out the window. Under stress and pressure, most of what we know does the same. So if we spend much of our lives under stress and pressure, how do we remember what we know are sound strategies for helping us get through it?
Here are 5 steps to remain calm, focused, and solution-oriented during difficult times:
1. The only thing constant is change. Whatever is happening, however bad, stressful, or awful, things WILL change. As I have struggled with Evan’s challenges, I have had to continually remind myself that this is not how it will be forever. It seems overwhelming now, but things will change. Even if it doesn’t change in the direction I hope it will, things will change.
2. Events + Response = Outcome. Knowing this logically doesn’t translate into doing this practically, unless it is habitual. Everything we do and think is habitual, which means, if you aren’t doing and thinking the way you want to, now is the time to change it. Practice the stages of attitude change we discussed a few weeks ago.
3. Find support. It is virtually impossible to get through challenging times. Find a friend, partner, or some other support system. It is so easy to seclude yourself from others because, let’s face it, maintaining relationships is a lot of work. It is the only option if we want to survive. We all need some type of support system. Find one with friends, at church, on-line, or with social groups. There are a variety of ways to find groups that share your challenges. I resisted this for five years because I was too exhausted and embarrased to talk about Evan’s illness with others. I finally found NAMI, and it has been a HUGE source of support. It doesn’t matter how many articles are out there. Talking to people in the same situation is really powerful.
4. Breathe. It sounds like common sense, but when we are under stress, we take shallow breaths. This allows less oxygen to the brain and adds to feelings of anxiousness and stress. Breathe in for three seconds, hold it for three seconds, and breathe out for three seconds. Do this several times, until you are either relaxed or light-headed, whichever comes first.
5. Take care of you. This is the hardest of all of the steps. It feels virtually impossible to stop long-enough to focus on this, but if you don’t, you will burn-out. Get a massage, read a book, take a vacation day or four, but take care of you. This includes eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough rest. While they might not be our favorite things to do, we are more equipt to deal with challenges when we are phsycially healthy and strong.
How do you remain calm and focused in the middle of challenges and adversity? Leave a comment!
Make it a wonderful week!