In healthcare, we have to be ready for emergencies . . . at any time.
That’s why we have crash carts on every hospital ward. It has everything we need for a Code Blue. We memorize protocols, practice our emergency skills and anticipate a crisis before it happens.
Action plans are part of the standard of care for patients with heart failure, asthma and chronic bronchitis. When patients recognize the signs of an acute exacerbation of their chronic condition, they know what medication to take first and when to call the doctor.
But outside of medical emergencies and crises, we all have ups and downs on the roller coaster ride of life. To get through the inevitable low points, we could all think ahead and design our own emotional action plans for rainy days, Mondays, humpdays, dump days, stress days and regular down days.
What would you stock in your emotional crash cart?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. A letter from a friend.
We should all write letters to our best friends reminding them why we love them, expressing our appreciation, acceptance and undying adoration, and listing all the things that make them special to you.
You need a letter like this to open on your worst days at work, your last day at work, when you’ve struck out, when you’ve hit rock bottom, when you’ve made a mistake, or when you’re broken-hearted.
2. Letter to yourself.
Write a letter to yourself, and fill it with positive affirmations about you and your life. On your down days, they can counter the negative thoughts that can make you feel worse about your situation.
Include in your letter a list of the great things you have accomplished (especially how you have helped other people in your life), your unique strengths and all that makes life worthwhile and meaningful to you.
3. A playlist for the blues.
The next day you have nothing to do, mix a playlist of your all-time favourite music. You could begin with country music that reminds you that you’re not the only one to go through the blues. Include every song you find uplifting, including the ones you just have to sing out loud every time you hear them.
4. Your favourite movies.
Is there a movie that always makes you smile and laugh? Skip the ones that make you cry. Epic science fiction or fantasy (e.g. Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings) can take you to another world for a few hours . . . or if you go for the trilogy, a whole afternoon.
I like superhero movies, like Spiderman, Superman or The Incredibles.
5. Words that inspire you.
These are the books, articles and aphorisms that remind you of what really matters and why you are here.
6. Your life lines.
Who do you call when you need someone to listen? Where do you find unconditional love, acceptance and inspiration? Better than letters from your best friend is of course, your best friends.