Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What to do when things don't go as planned?

What happens to the family when things don't go as planned. I work in a neonatal intensive care unit so I see first hand how the best laid plans take a downward swirl in a moments notice.

A perfect planned pregnancy and delivery takes on a different level of stress when baby needs oxygen, antibiotics, or has a defect not detected in utero.

The same can happen when a routine doctor visit detects a lump or a routine blood count detects a blood cancer. We are all just a moment away from having something stressful change the way we have our lives planned. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when life throws a wrench in all the best laid plans:

1. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a few minutes to grasp what it is you have just been told. Taking those first few deep breaths helps to avoid panic and allows your body to gather the hormones and the energy needed to move forward.

2. Make note of the three most immediate tasks that need to be addressed before moving on. Nurses are trained to check for airway, breathing , and circulation before addressing any other need for a patient. Deal with what you have to in the same way. Make a list of the three most immediate tasks to complete before dealing with anything else. It may be child care, transportation, financial, or it may be make an appointment, get another diagnostic test, talk about your options. No matter what has just happened, it can be handled in a systematic way if you take it a step at a time.

3. Call on your family and friends for support and for assistance. Don't let pride get in the way of asking for help with your needs. Friends want to do what they can, so give them ideas and accept it when they take it upon themselves to cook, clean, or offer services.

4. Communicate. Keep the communication open between your immediate family especially a spouse or significant other and your children. Don't make this a time to close out those that love you. Often spouses will get left in the dust when a child becomes ill. Don't let that happen, and rely on each other for strength.

5. Keep your faith and don't push your religion away. Let your inborn beliefs and family values help to keep you strong no matter how tragic a situation may appear or no matter how angry you are with God.

6. Be grateful and look for the hidden blessings in any serious situation. Whether it is a friend, the timing of the incident, a staff member, the weather, what could have happened.... there is always some little blessing to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude helps to keep a balance in a stressful or unhappy situation. Try it.

7. Continue to eat healthy snacks for energy, rest when you can, and stay hydrated. Keeping the body strong keeps the emotional and mental side of a person strong and able to cope with stress in a more effectual manner.

When things don't go as planned, try to avoid panic, hasty actions, and reacting to the anger. Take a deep breath so taking one step at a time becomes easier to do. Email comments or other suggestions so I can share them with the readers. Life will throw a wrench when ever it can, so having an idea about how others deal with life's zingers may just be what you need when your wrench comes down.

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