Month: March 2015

I gotta DO something!

Humans don’t like feeling helpless, do we?

One of the more brilliant morale-boosters during World War II was encouraging people to collect metal for scrap to be melted down and used for the war effort. Letting people DO something. I’ve seen conjecture that the most valuable thing those scrap drives produced was morale. Which was, no doubt, extremely valuable.

I’m also convinced that a need to proactively do something is the main reason people crowd grocery stores when we hear that a storm is coming. Personally, I keep more than a couple of days’ worth of milk, toilet paper, and canned goods at any given time, and I’m sure most of the folks at the store do, too. But a grocery run is action.

And then there are those super-stressful, out-of-control days, when you just kind of have the vague feeling that the spit is about to hit the fan? You can’t really explain it, but you’re almost floundering with the need to do something.

(When I say this, I’m operating under the hope that this isn’t just me, and that I’m not completely crazy. It’s not the kind of thing that often pops up in everyday conversation, is it?)

I’ve let myself forget all this, and kind of gotten away from it, but I’ve also sort of been letting things pile up on me. Time to create my own morale-boosters, time to get control again. I dredged this up from my mental archives, and can’t believe I let myself forget.

This is my personal list. A way to prepare myself for unexpected situations.

1. Drink a glass of water. Because being hydrated is a good way to make most medical emergencies easier to handle. Plus, it’ll keep you from getting a headache if there are non-medical things stressing you out. (Within reason, though: water intoxication is NOT COOL. If you are sensitive to low sodium, DO NOT attempt that whole “8 oz glasses of water, 8 times per day” thing. Three days in the ICU with water intoxication is not fun. Trust me.)

2. Call a friend. Because you need somebody. Call before things get rough. It’s nice to know you’ve got a support network. (And it feels nice to be part of someone’s network, too!)

3. Clean the bathroom. This is one of those little things that won’t necessarily make things better, but can keep them from being worse. If unexpected visitors come by, chances are, they’ll use the bathroom. If your house gets robbed, then you’ll call the police, who will look through the house, and at least you won’t be embarrassed by the bathroom. Someone is sick? Who was it that first said, “Nothing says ‘I love you,’ like a clean place to throw up.” If there’s a tornado – well, I don’t know about you, but my house only has one interior room big enough for the family to hide in, and I’d prefer it to be clean when we do it.

4. Update your resume. I’m a (mostly) stay at home mom, and I have an updated resume. When you need it, you need it. I’ve had some opportunities for contract or part-time work over the last few years, and it’s been nice to have. I’ve had acquaintances scramble for new jobs, or need one for promotions or whatnot, and it’s such an easy thing to have saved on your computer somewhere. Plus, it’s a nice, empowering thing to do for yourself. It feels good to know what you can do.

5. Do the laundry. I’m not suggesting letting the laundry go at other times, but I’ve found that running laundry is a helpful way to feel like you’re controlling the unexpected. (This means dropping things off at the dry cleaner’s, too.) If you have to rush out of town for some reason, it’s easier to pack if the laundry is done. If that unexpected visitor needs to stay overnight, you have clean towels. Kids are sick? Clean linens ready to go on the bed, and fresh pj’s in the drawer. Unexpected dinner invite with the boss? That just-right dress is back from the cleaner’s. Electricity/gas/water lines go out? You have a couple of days worth of clean underwear.

Sure, there are myriad other things you can do to prepare for crazy times, that don’t interfere with real life. Keeping your travel toiletries bag stocked. Plugging in the chargeable flashlights. Whatever. But when that’s done, it’s done until you need it. I’m just looking for something recurring that I can do, that’s available for me to do whenever I feel like I need it. I don’t want to be a “prepper,” it’s just that sometimes I want to do.

If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep. – Dale Carnegie