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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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5 Proven Success Tips for Life's Emergencies

The importance of embracing life’s beautiful moments and periods of calm became even more appreciated recently. The last few weeks have been tough ones. Right after some wonderful, relaxing vacation time, my mom took a bad fall, ended up in the hospital for a week, and is now home. As you might imagine, when there’s an accident, family emergency or other unexpected crisis, everything changes…at least for a time.

It’s not that we’re completely out of the emergency state, but that high alert, going-to-the-hospital-every-day part has ended. Now we’re in the emergency aftermath and navigating the necessary changes. During the high alert stage, there were a few things that helped.

Not that I’m wishing emergencies on any of you, but if you do find yourself in a challenging situation, maybe one of these success tips will help you. I’m also guessing that you might have one or two of your own to add, so please do.


5 Proven Success Tips for Life’s Emergencies 

1. Let Go – Remove all the non-essentials. Are there deadlines that can be shifted? Are there appointments that can be rescheduled? Are there goals you wanted to accomplish, but are unnecessary right now? What can you let go of to simplify the demands on your time right now? You’ll need extra thinking power, strength and energy to focus on the emergency situation.


2. BreatheThere will be many questions and decisions to make. Some will need to be made fast. Others are better made more slowly. Emergencies get our adrenaline pumping. If your heart is racing and you’re feeling panicked just pause. Take some long, deep breaths. Let the oxygen flow to your brain. Calm your system. Your mind will be more available to make better, calmer decisions. 


3. ConnectYou are not alone. Having the love, support, and care from family, friends and professionals will hold you up when you are in crisis. The Westchester Medical Center staff was amazing. They took excellent care of my mother, but also showed care and concern for the family. And I don’t know what I would have done without the loving support of my family and friends. Their loving messages, calls, and care packages made all the difference.


4. ReturnWhile emergencies require more of our time and energy, it’s absolutely critical that we activate the basics like sleeping, hydrating, eating, and getting fresh air. Hospitals can easily bring out the worst in us with the harsh lighting and our tendency to pump ourselves with large amounts of caffeine and sweets. However, if you can take some fresh air breaks, eat healthy meals, drink extra water, and minimize the sweets, your body and mind will thank you. You’re under more stress than normal so make sure to “feed” yourself in positive ways.


5. LaughEven in the darkness of crisis, there is light and humor. Laughter can work it’s magic. It can lift your spirits and those around you to create a positive, healing mood. Even during some very difficult days, there were moments of laughter and singing with my mom. I treasured and embraced those. They helped sustain me through the rougher periods.


There were other things that helped during this time too, like having a chart of my mom’s medications and health history, and doing a few “normal” activities. The stress wasn’t eliminated completely, but each of these strategies helped me cope better with what was happening.

And lastly, the thing that helped me the most was taking one day and one decision at a time. I tried not to project too far ahead. Especially when there is an emergency, the situation is constantly shifting. Remaining flexible with choices and options really helped.

What success strategies have worked for you during emergencies? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation.





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Reader Comments (12)

Another great and thoughtful post Linda.
It reminds me of my mother's words of wisdom when dealing with difficult things:
"There are 3 options. Change what you need to, accept what you can't change, and walk away from the rest."
It was simple enough for me to grasp as a child, and has served me for 50 years.
Thanks for your helpful additions Linda!

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlison Lush CPO-CD, CPO

First, so sorry to hear about your Mom. Seems like all of my friends and I are going through similar situations - a new stage of life! I call these "life events"... good or bad, they knock us out of our normal routine, and instantly usher in new layers of complexity. I agree completely with your list, especially the need to connect and return. It is easy to become overwhelmed and lose perspective, so taking the vulnerable step of asking for help can be the "secret sauce of survival."

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I'm glad your mom is home again. This type of emergency can really throw us for a loop, but if anyone is equipped to handle it, I know you are!

The thing that's always stood out for me is how all the things that feel urgent in our day-to-day lives just get set aside when a crisis arises. It certainly helps to have plans in place for our families and our businesses when life gets in the way, but it also makes you think - are all those things urgent after all?

Maybe our daily to-do lists will feel less overwhelming if we approach them as if an emergency was looming. Delegate what we can, and focus on the things that are most important that can't be done by someone else. Then worry about the rest.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

@Alison- Your mother's words of wisdom are amazing! How lucky you are to adopt those ideas a guiding force. I love the clarity and directness of the message. Thank you, Alison's mom!!!

@Seana-Thank you. I'm sorry to hear that you too are going through "stuff." I hadn't considered the perspective that by asking for self, we're allowing ourselves to be vulnerable...something not so easy to do. But it IS the "secret sauce of survival," as you said. Going it alone is so much harder. And the other piece that one of my friends reminded me of is that friends and family WANT to help, and they appreciate being asked.

@Janet- I'm glad mom's home again too. Thank you for your encouraging words. It IS interesting how when emergencies arise, so many of our "to dos" get shelved. And it's a great opportunity to re-evaluate their importance or urgency. I like your suggestion of approaching the list like that regularly (emergency or not) and encourage a more ruthless approach focusing more on what's truly important.

September 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Excellent advice. It's so challenging to 'swim' against the adrenaline rush when crisis occurs. Your 5 tips are a reminder of what steps need to be taken to ensure that we, along with our loved one, survive the crisis and move through it as easily as possible. I have kept a list of my parent's medications for a few years and update it when necessary--it makes me feel a bit more prepared in case of a crisis situation.

Wishing your mom a speedy recovery!

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Agin Murray

After reading Brene Browns book Rising Strong, I have often thought of how to best use our strengths for challenging times. Those challenges arise in many different ways from health, to relationships to global issues. This list of 5 tips carries through the theme presented in the book. I think we all need ways to ensure success just in case.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Glad to hear your mum is doing better. Life likes to throw us a curve ball every now and again. Having your mothers medication and health history is very important. As we moved often as a child my mum always kept individual books with our medical history in it so it was always at hand before our records caught up with us. I still have one i use for myself to keep track of symptoms, handy for doctors appointments.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

I'm so glad to know that your mother is home and that you're over the first hurdle. Your list is a good one. Remembering to breathe and to take time to consider your options is so important. Recognizing that you do have to make a few decisions immediately and that you can push the pause button on others.

We should all have a list of medications, Dr. names, and names of people to contact immediately in case of emergency kept in an easy to access place. So that, in an emergency, someone else would know how to respond on our behalf.

September 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Quintana

@Stacey- That list of medications has been SO helpful...not just for various hospital visits, but for all doctors' visits too. It also includes a very brief health history. I remember putting it together after the first time my mom was hospitalized. They kept asking me questions in the ER. My mom wasn't well enough to answer and I had no idea. The list solved that problem fast. Thank you for your good wishes.

@Ellen- I loved Brene Brown's book, "Rising Strong." I hadn't made the connection between this post and some of the themes in her book but am glad you did. Thank you for that. Now I have to go back and look at the book from this new perspective.

September 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Jill- Thank you. You're so right about life's "curve balls." At times they come fast and furiously. I love how your mother kept individual books for each of you growing up. And now as an adult, you've continued the tradition. What a great idea!

@Diane- I appreciate your words of support. I like your suggestion of having that emergency list not just for our parents, but for ourselves...because you never know. I feel like I'm prepared because I have essential numbers stored on my iPhone, but that might not be so useful for my loved ones. Making a list like the one I made for my mom is probably the way to go. Adding that to my "to do" list!

September 20, 2016 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great tips! I agree with the ladies above about having all the medications on one list. Also, from personal experience have the important documents like living will on hand is essential. My brother encountered an issue because my father didn't want any additional procedures done to prolong his life so he had to stop them from doing anything. Thank God he had the paperwork with him. They made him comfortable and that was all. Even if you don't like it, you should follow the person's request. It also takes the guilt off of you because you are doing what they requested in writing.

September 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Quairoli

@Sabrina- Please excuse my delayed response to your wonderful comment. I just returned from the ICD conference in Portland. Such a great suggestion to add that in addition to having the medications list to also have those important documents handy (like will, power of attorney, or health care directives.) It absolutely helps to not only to have had the discussions in advance of emergencies but also to refer to your loved ones wishes DURING the emergencies. It helps with both clarity and as you said, guilt.

September 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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