Being in pain or managing a chronic condition while also having an external crisis play out in front of you, can really add to the stress and therefore the symptoms that you manage.
Watching the Australian bushfires unfold this summer was truly horrifying. It will be a summer that we will never forget. We sat glued to the news, day after day for months, watching it progress, planning and preparing, waiting to act or move if the threat got too close.
Now we have changed from a national crisis to a global crisis and we are applying the same actions. Australia has gone from bushfires to COVID-19 without a moment to take a deep breath before managing the next crisis.
With chronic conditions, we usually have a similar overlap of one crisis to the next with our symptoms – we fix one thing only to start dealing with something else at the same time or right after. Getting a moment to take a deep breath between taking action to fix our symptoms is a rare luxury.
While the bushfires were happening in Australia, I learnt a lot about how we manage a crisis, what really matters, what each person needs to do for their own safety and well-being, and how as a community we come together to help each other. The bushfires made us act fast, seek support and reflect, which is exactly what happens when a chronic condition appears in our life.
A few things that became clear to me while I prepared my bushfire safety plans. Not only did I need a bushfire plan, but also a chronic condition plan. A chronic condition plan for the everyday scenario and a booster pack plan for when there is an additional crisis or stressor occurring.
When we have a chronic condition or our own medical crisis and an external crisis happening in the world around us, we need to call in the Booster pack for support.
See my post here for The Chronic Condition Emergency Plan for the everyday scenario.
In addition to having an everyday scenario emergency plan for our condition, there are some things we need to add in when there are multiple crises happening. Consider these things to be crisis self-care and responsibility (or Response Ability).
The Booster Pack
- Checking and updating your legal and important documents and keeping them in an accessible place and keeping a spare at another location or on a cloud drive. Make sure you have access to anyone else’s documents that you may need.
- Prepare your plans for evacuation and worse case scenarios.
- Have a plan A, and then a Plan B and C. We need to think through all the options that we have in our plan and see if there might be a place where the plan could break down. For example, if your normal carer is unable to reach you to attend to you, you may need to see if there is anyone else in your location or circle of people that can help you.
- Find ways to stay grounded and ease uncertainty – Remind yourself that you will be ok, cared for and safe.
- Pay attention to your mental health – Ask others for help prior to needing it. It doesn’t have to be bad before seeking help.
- It is important that we continue everyday routines and rituals for condition management e.g. exercise and meditation.
- Develop a gratitude practice. Taking the time to slow and notice what is good around you and what you are thankful for. It is so easy to see the bad, difficult and weary things that we have to remind ourselves to look for the special things. A ritual like a prayer, a journal or each person lists 3 things they are grateful for each day at dinner time.
- Take regular social and media breaks, and have a longer detox every now and then. We might be looking at pretty pictures and updates, but we already have enough on our minds and we need to review how much more we can add it to the vital space. Too often in a crisis we are glued to the news, unable to take a break from it, constantly updating and obsessing over the stats and predictions. This can add too much to our overthinking brains, and cause unnecessary worry, anxiety and stress. Check in with yourself and if you feel it is getting out of hand, take regular breaks, limit your news exposure to certain times periods of the day, and seek help.
- Prioritise sleep and keep a regular routine. Sleep is an area where we cut corners and those corners really do matter to our entire wellbeing!
- Try to take time doing activities that reduce your stress. Check out my list of activities that restore my energy in The Survival Kit post and create your own!
These things are the extra power charge for our batteries to keep us going that are both self caring and responsible.
Take good care, Readers. Stay safe during these times and look out for each other.
I’ll keep the light on.
We never know when something could go wrong or we need additional help, and the best way to manage this is to be prepared and have a plan. Here are my tips to cover all bases!
Nurturing ourselves with familiar and enriching activities that restore our energy is what keeps us afloat when everything around us is uncertain, rough and stormy.