Life has a habit of throwing you a curve ball, and it is up to you how you respond to them, whether you sink or swim. In the face of adversity such as a health concern, our natural reaction is fear and other strong negative emotions that can impact negatively on the outcome. Our emotions are a powerful force in our lives and can override our rational thoughts. Challenging situations can make you feel like you have no control over the consequences, but this is not so. You do have control; you just need to know how to develop it and regain rationality.
1. Don’t Panic
A panicked reaction is rarely the right one to have made. Take time to review the situation and get your head around the nuances of what is really going on. Two people can hear the same words but take away very different meanings from the conversation. The feelings of panic that you experience are the body’s natural response to a situation that it perceives will bring harm either physically or mentally. It is the fight or flight response that is triggered by the hormones your body releases during times of stress. Physical indicators of the response to stress include:
- Your body trembling
- Your pupils dilating
- Your skin may flush or go pale
- Your heartbeat rate increasing
- Your breathing may be rapid
If you are able, go for a walk to clear your head or simply concentrate on your breathing; you need to be able to think clearly about what has been said so that your natural impulses are stabilized. As you give yourself space to process the information you have received, you will note that your heart rate calms and you can think more rationally. Remind yourself that these feelings are only temporary.
2. Seek Solution
Now that the dust has settled, and you are not as panicked by the situation, you can see the issue for what it is: you are in the position to seek a solution. Take time to evaluate the different options available to you. There are very few instances when there is only ever one course of action.
- List options
You may find it helpful to jot down your options and list the advantages and disadvantages. You do not have to react instantly and make a rash decision. Revisit your notes over a couple of days; as time goes by, you will see how some of your solutions are more likely to be beneficial and others are not so appropriate.
- Knowledge is power
Make sure that you gain knowledge to make an informed decision based on rational thoughts rather than emotional ones. For example, a diabetes diagnosis is never welcome, but advances in the knowledge of diabetes and how it can be treated through the SANE program, can provide a very real opportunity to manage the condition. Research your options and be safe in the knowledge that you are making the right decision for you.
- Reach out
Ask friends and family for their input too – sometimes we are too close to a situation to be able to verify whether our solutions are a good idea or not, and so a third party can add a new dimension to your thought process. Talking to trusted people can provide you with a safe sounding board for your fears and worries
3. Review and Learn
To move on and take the challenging aspect out of the situation, you need to review what has happened to aid your recovery. Think objectively about what has triggered such an emotional response and identify what could have been done differently. By understanding what provoked such strong feelings, you can use the experience to better your ability to cope when challenges arise in the future without the fear of escalating emotions blurring your thought process.
If, for example, you have found yourself taking part in an argument that has spiraled out of control, you may find that on review, the argument was about underlying issues with regards to your health concerns.
Often challenging situations are met with reactions that are fueled by the fear of the unknown. It is important that you learn to control your natural impulses so that you can make a calm and rational decision that will give you the best outcome. Be proactive with your response and identify courses of action that will benefit you in the long term – think of the hare and tortoise fable – the tortoise was slower to respond to the demands of the race, but by adopting a thoughtful, measured and stable response, he won!