Monday, April 12, 2010

Coping with emergencies

No matter how good you are at maintaining a good work-life balance, unforeseen emergencies will occur and throw your best laid plans out of the window.

How well you cope in a crisis and how quickly your recover from it are both aspects of resilience.  So what are the key approaches that can improve your personal resilience?

First there’s the state you are in when the emergency occurs. The more energy you have in reserve the better able you are to handle a crisis. If there’s already excessive stress in your life, you will have less to draw on to handle the unexpected.  That’s a good enough reason to have a sound work-life balance in the first place! If you already have too much to cope with, what’s going to happen when a crisis hits?

Second, how well prepared you are?  It is amazing how many crises could have been avoided with a bit of additional knowledge or planning.  For example, most people would struggle if they lost all the contact details of people stored in their mobile phone or if they had their laptop stolen, but relatively few people take the trouble to learn how to back-up their important data and to then do so on a regular basis.  Sometimes you can get the impression that people’s approach to the thought of crisis is to convince themselves that it will never happen!

Thirdly there the question of how well you react in a crisis.  Broadly speaking people’s reactions tend to fall into one of three categories; those who freeze with fear, those who panic, and those who act sensibly according to what the situation calls for.  Unfortunately, unless you have ever experienced a real crisis it is impossible to tell how you will react but you can be prepared.  Experts in the field always tell people to slow down, to take deep breaths and not to allow yourself to be rushed into making bad decisions.

Lastly there is the question of how quickly you will recover following a crisis.  There are no quick answers or simple techniques here, but all the experts point to the importance that friends, family and, in extreme cases, professional counsellors can play.

As a final thought, don’t be superstitious! Preparing yourself to better handle emergencies doesn’t make them happen!

Author: Nick Woodeson

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