When we face upheaval in our lives – whether family illness, loss of a job, death or other crisis, it can be really overwhelming.
That is how I felt recently when my mom was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. To compound things, my dad has dementia and since my mom is his primary caregiver, we had to mobilize quickly as a family to get organized.
Three months later, we have moved past the initial crisis mode. Reflecting on those first 3 months, these are the 9 tools I used most to cut through the overwhelm, implement systems and free up the space and time to be there for my mom.
- Get organized – I moved my parents into an apartment in my building so they would be closer to my sister and me. My sister took charge of my dad’s care while I managed my mom’s care. We quickly coordinated schedules and implemented routines to help us manage it all. This temporary move allowed us to maximize our efforts. Organizing our physical environment, implementing routines and coordinated schedules gave us a sense of order and control.
- Remain flexible – Things may not go how you planned. You may need to switch gears – often. For example, when mom was scheduled to go in for her second round of chemo, we got ready at 8am to go to the hospital. A bed did not become available till 8:30pm. Because we remained flexible, we were able to pick up and go when we got the call.
- Forget perfectionism – Despite my best intentions, I had to accept that I couldn’t do it all. I had to let go of c
ertain things – especially the ones I wasn’t able to outsource. An example of this is my weekly newsletter. For those of you that get my newsletter, you know how much I love connecting with you each week. Nonetheless, I had to put this on hold for a while.
- Get support – What I have found most helpful is to connect with long time friends that know me well as well as with people who are going through similar experiences. My dear friend Liz has been a godsend in helping me move through this. I’ve also attended a caregiver support group a few times. The point is we need support in general but particularly in times of crisis.
- Share your story – Every time I share the story of my mom’s illness, I am amazed how many people have gone through similar experiences. So many women have told me they have gone through cancer with their own mom. Others have told me that they have been living cancer-free for years. It is helpful to hear how others have coped and know you are not alone.
- Don’t lose track of your goals – During a time of overwhelm, it is easy to lose focus of your goals. Two important goals of mine are expanding my business and addressing some of my own health concerns. To help me remain focused on my goals, I hired both a business coach and a wellness coach.
- Reduce stress – Managing stress is always a good idea, but especially during a time of crisis. For me this includes – bike riding, swimming and writing. These “moving meditations” have given me life-long solace and I turn to them often when I need grounding and stress relief. The simple act of taking time for yourself is stress reducing.
- Take time for yourself – The first thing I learned at a caregiver support group is that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. The classic “put the oxygen mask on yourself first”. Ducking in for a manicure and quick 15-minute massage in between medical appointments has been a great way to get in some self-care.
- Delegate, outsource, hire help – For those of you that have followed me for a while, you know how much I believe in hiring experts to help you. You also know that I practice what I preach. I don’t know what we would do without my assistant, housekeeper, a companion for my dad and the slue of nurses and physical therapists that are helping my mom. I can’t emphasize enough how invaluable this has been for us.
If you feel overwhelmed, whether from an unforeseen crisis or in general, use the 9 tools above to help you move through it. I know for certain based on my work with hundreds of clients since starting AKorganizing back in 2006 that getting organized, clearing away the clutter and implementing systems is a surefire way to overcome overwhelm. Whether you are going through crisis or are struggling with overwhelm in general, please call me. I can help.
There’s no need to struggle on your own. You can reach me at 646-245-1248 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have tools of your own that you have used to help you overcome overwhelm? Leave a note below and let us know!