And it made me question my whole philosophy.
I spend a lot of time figuring out my routines, schedules and habits, because I find that it increases my productivity and assures that my deadlines are met. It brings me peace, it balances my health with my goals. While making those schedules and building the habits, I make selfcare the foundation. I make sure I have enough down time, lunch time and that I don't deplete myself before the end of the day. These principles have enabled me to keep up with the blog, work on my novel, write my articles, keep up with school, and much more. The downtime that I schedule not only assures enough rest, but it also serves as spare time in case something falls through the cracks. But, what do you do when a crisis comes up, and everything drops down the priority list? Suddenly, when your whole day, or even several days, are dedicated to one thing, that spare time isn't enough. It is not that I look down on myself for not being prepared for it, it is that I wonder what can I add to my scheduling, to my systems and habits, that I can prepare for a crisis? As a teen, my life tended to be crisis after crisis, and because I didn't know how to deal with that, I didn't accomplish anything significant. I didn't have the energy for it and my mind was elsewhere. I ended up comparing myself to my peers and wonder how they did what they did, while I barely had the energy to do anything. Obviously, the problem wasn't that I couldn't organize myself, but that I was in a bad environment, in a bad situation, practicing basically no selfcare. I didn't feel safe, I didn't feel heard. It makes sense now why I didn't get anything done. Because of that, I hold myself accountable if I can't catch a crisis with a perfect plan. So, after this week's unplannable wave of stress, I sat down and thought about making "emergency schedules" for crises, plan b's, and how to simplify this idea in a step by step instruction. I couldn't come up with anything solid enough that it would serve in any type of crisis.
Planning a crisis is an oxymoron in itself. If you could handle it with a good plan and "organize" the damage of it away, then it wouldn't be a crisis.
Eventually, the best thing I knew to do was strip my schedule from anything that didn't have a strong or nearby deadline, anything non-essential for my writer's career or school, and I let go of my structure, since it wasn't going to be there anyway. Above it all, I tried to let myself come first, prioritize my emotional wellbeing above anything else, including school and writing. I made sure I had whatever I needed to remain stable (the three big ones, sleep, food, hygiene) and for everything else I set my boundaries. I told my classmates I wasn't available for school, I accepted that I may not make a deadline for an article, and that it is okay.
I always tell my peers that if it's not going to kill you, it's not worth your stress. Missing a deadline certainly wasn't what could kill me, so it wasn't priority.
In light of our journey to use your selfcare as a foundation and how to utilize it, this is the advice this experience gives you.
You can't plan a crisis away. I did the best thing I could in a situation like mine. It is because I made sure that I was fed, rested and taken care of while dealing with something unpleasant, that I felt ready to restart my regular schedule the very second the probleem seemed resolved. There was no aftermath, no half-arsed work that could have taken away time spend getting through the crisis. I didn't work on my blog, cause I knew I was better off skipping a week and write a good post, than hurrying myself through the next planned post.
I didn't finish my article, I didn't want to hastily finish it to "get it out of the way" and hand in slobby work. I moved my novel's deadline, if my mind is elsewhere, nothing good comes out anyway. Instead, I preserved my healthy foundation. A strong foundation made of physical care, mental care, having my emotional needs met, giving myself the chance to gather my thoughts and consider what I feel. Now it's only been a few hours since the resolution, and I feel ready. Some crises might require more care afterwards, especially if it was shocking or traumatic. My take away is that no matter what, if you stick to the princinple of you as your highest priority, a crisis or something that drains all your energy doesn't have to knock you down and make you feel like everything you did was put back to 0.
If you do feel like you'll be dealing with an aftermath, schedule for it.
Change your week schedule to match your new or temporary needs.
Reduce the hours, pause a project, change the work days, schedule in some time with other people if other people help you recharge. Dedicate a block of time to anti-stress activities. If you're used to the experience that a crisis knocks you off your feet for a longer period, I promise you that conscious selfcare during a crisis will reduce your recharge time afterwards. So drink water, get enough sleep, make sure you are well-fed with a balanced diet, exersize your body, and make sure you feel in balance with yourself and your surroundings. Tidy the room, make your favorite meal, take care of your skin and give your back a stretch. Everything else comes second. Love, Terri x.