Sometimes, personal crises can come out of the blue.
And though, we cannot plan for everything that life throws our way (though organized people try to do this probably more than they should, i.e. me), we can practice effective and simple techniques to keep us, our surroundings, and tasks a float (even during those times when all we really want to do, is shut ourselves out from the world and trash our to-dos).
This post will be slightly emotional, but universally applicable and still relevant to being organized, so keep reading.
So lets start with A) why I’m late in my posting schedule this week and B) what happened to me to initiate this post in the first place.
This week, my significant other was in a car accident and the very next day, I found out that my father’s cancer was spreading despite a recent surgery that aimed to place him in remission, but was deemed unsuccessful. Additionally, our family business is struggling extensively. Now, I am most certainly not the type of person to broadcast my issues to the world, but I felt that if my post could possibly even help one other person during their time of need, it was worth it.
Considering that I am a highly organized person on every fathomable level, it is unlikely me to behave so emotionally that I stop prioritizing my life, but I did. When these events did occur, I felt depressed and angry with the world. I cried, ate cinnamon buns and drank hot chocolate. I didn’t wash my hair.
You see, crises have a way of threatening our basic survival in ways that can leave us in emotional outrage, blinded to basic reason. Our natural lack of preparedness can basically leave us wrapped in a tin foil of conflicts, anxiety, and stress.
So, after realizing this, it was transparent that my thoughts weren’t doing anyone any good (myself including). Not only was I disrespecting my body by eating junk, I wasn’t alert enough to help my family through the next steps of my father’s treatment, and I was snapping at my significant other due to my distressed state.
However, thankfully this phase of mine only spanned for about 2 days. Soon enough, I quickly lifted myself up from the ground again. And as badly as I wanted to leave the dishes piled up in the sink, throw my planner out the window, and halt into complete, utter disorganization, organization was in fact, the one thing that could save me.
I said to myself, Shivani you have to get up, you just have to.
I understood quickly that in today’s world, putting things on pause for too long and becoming MIA in a time of crisis can be counter intuitive. To clarify, we as humans feel the need to shut ourselves out and take a break when we go through something painful, but as hard as it may be, sometimes instead, the better option is to incorporate a few healthy steps into our lives as soon as possible.
In all honesty, the longer we pause, the more we end up increasing our work loads, burdens, and stressors long-term and the less we rid of ourselves of personal and societal pressures.
Gratefully, I was able to develop 6 organized ways to help myself get back up on my feet this week:
(1) Take a breather and accept the circumstances.
Episodic crises do not ask your permission before the enter your life, they just do. Taking a deep breath, writing down the issues out on paper, and accepting the current situations for what they are, not what you want them to be, can have a positive impact.
Sitting quietly for even 5 minutes of reflection can help bring ease and clarity to your mind.
(2) Preempt “tiny” strategies for alleviation.
Car accident? Breakup? Job or money loss?Sick loved one? Huge business loss? Whatever the crisis may be, start to pinpoint a few factors that can help your situation even 1%, because 1% is always better than making 0% headway. For me, I essentially took “baby” steps.
- I focused on getting my father’s paperwork sent over to a radiation oncologist.
- I had a family meeting to see what course of action we could take to make sure my father was on the right track medically.
- I created a schedule with my parents on which days I could come help them at our business, even if that meant only 1/week.
- I nurtured my significant other, even if that only included small things like ordering him pizza (because that’s his favorite food) or doing his end of the chores for the week.
- I used my planner to quickly glance at my current to-dos and rescheduled a few so I felt less overwhelmed.
- I took just 45 minutes to complete a quick home cleaning, which surprisingly helped me feel slightly lighter. Believe it or not, your surroundings can impact your emotions, so try to make your home as sanctuary-like as possible, especially during a crisis (it will help, trust me!).
Ask yourself, are there any steps you can take towards alleviation, no matter how trivial they may seem?
(3) Asking for help is always okay. You have allies.
I am very grateful in the sense that I have a very loving aunt and uncle, who have supported me throughout my life in countless situations. Naturally, I immediately got in touch with them once hearing about my father’s news. My uncle who is a retired surgeon and physician was able to educate me further on the matter. Consulting the situation with them also brought clarity on what steps my father needed both medically and psychologically.
I was also able to open up to a close friend who supported me during this time. He even shared his own personal experience of his own father battling cancer and the steps he took. This helped decrease the loneliness facet and promoted hope.
I notified my professors of my circumstances and they were more than willing to work with me 1:1 during this time, as needed.
I directly asked my significant other to hug me and make me some chamomile tea (it’s true what they say, sometimes it’s the small things that end up being the big things), because I was feeling so low. He responded in the most affectionate way, telling me that he was there for me 100% and would take any action needed to help my family.
Asking for help never degrades you as a person and it doesn’t send off a signal saying you’re a weakling either. Kind people will always respond to your time of need in a helpful, non-judgmental and non-critical way.
To elaborate further on my point above, taking a short pause can be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself right now. Self-love and self-healing during crises can really be one of the most optimal ways to handle them. Taking time to nurture your mind, body, and soul, whether this be a bowl of chocolate ice cream, a walk in nature, a cheerful comedy movie can enliven you. For me, I planned a movie night with a group of friends, ordered some pizza, and lit a soothing candle. I also had a weekend trip planned prior to Asheville, NC with my significant other, which I did not cancel. Canceling this trip and plodding away in my pajamas at home would not serve my greater good in any way. Yet, traveling, spending some time to “get away,” find peace, and re-energize my own battery would make me a stronger and more helpful person.
Fight the urge to want to curl up in a ball of self-loathing and instead, spend time with people who love you and on things that make you feel even a little better. Keep in mind, if you are not taking care of yourself, how will you take care of those around you (especially, considering that crises almost always impact more than one person)? Work with and for your support system, not against it. Crisises dealt as a team can always yield more fruitful results.
(5) Purge your emotions but prevent them from turning into dictators.
I’m the first to admit, I am a HIGHLY sensitive person. Negative people, situations, or habits affect me probably more than they should. I’ve accepted that this is part of my personality and learned to understand that not everyone’s heart will always match up to mine. And though I am grateful that my significant other wasn’t heavily impacted by the accident and that my father, in this moment, is being as strong as he can be, I still feel sadness in my heart. This grief also includes parasitic fears and anxieties that tend to naturally engulf situations like these.
So what did I do? I cried. I yelled at God for a a few minutes. I felt depressed for a short time and this was all completely okay. I however, did not allow the depressed feelings to turn into depression. If this does begin to happen to you, please seek help. It is natural for humans to get swept away into a dust ball of sorrow during crises, but when it starts to linger, it is a sign you need more support (perhaps, even professional help, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, at all, I promise! 🙂 ).
As hard as it may be, try to remind yourself that crises are temporary and though, their effects may be long-lasting, they are survivable. Be strong, seek the support of your friends and loved ones. Find counseling if you need it too!
(6) Plan post-crisis.
I use a daily planner and lists to help keep my mind and life organized. This system has always worked for me, because it helps create a little space in my mind (instead of trying to mentally account every note of every thing I need to get done all the time). Participating in the latter can be exhausting! For me, I quickly started to rearrange certain to-dos that I could hold off on, completed the shorter projects that only took one hour or so (so this way, I felt that at least something was being accomplished), and tried to prevent my mind from racing and feeling overwhelmed by talking things over verbally with my significant other.
Find a system that works for you whether this be a clip board, calendar app, or whiteboard with Post-it sticky notes and then utilize your system to your maximum benefit. After noting your individual thoughts and to-dos, rescheduling things for another day, or even journaling, you will begin to automatically feel a bit lighter and have a stronger grasp on the situation at hand.
Blessings to all of you during your difficult times, stay strong!