Paolo Assandri
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Through the storm: your “psycho-spiritual emergency plan”.

Have you ever seen flight attendants showing the safety procedures before flying? Those safety procedures are easy-to-follow instructions that should safely guide us through an emergency situation. They do not assure that we will be 100% safe, still they indicate how to behave in order to protect us more efficiently.

In the same way as it might happen on a flight, even in our daily life we could find ourselves in an emergency situation . For this reason, as we need emergency procedures while flying, we might need a “psycho-spiritual emergency plan” in order to face challenging situations in our daily life.

Would you like to create your own “psycho-spiritual emergency plan”? Then, follow my instructions.

First of all, as per all well planned emergency plans, yours will have to be written down on a paper sheet (or on a PC)  and put it in a safe place where you can easily gain access to it.

Now be extremely honest with yourself and answer those following questions.

  1. Whom should I talk to in a difficult time?
    Think of the people you trust and you want to talk to when you are having hard times. Think of friends, relatives, co-workers, professionals, etc. Then write make a list of those people.
  2. Whom should I avoid in a difficult time?
    Think of people who would stress you out and that would be better to avoid during difficult times. These people might be close to you but instead of helping, they might increase your worries.
  3. Which activities/hobbies make me feel good?
    There might activities that we pursue on a daily basis but that we forget during difficult times: a massage, a walk, physical activity, a warm bath, gardening, looking after your pet, etc.
  4. Which activities should I leave behind? Which of them should I leave in stand-by not in order not to have a physical and emotional breakdown?
    All activities require mental and physical energy; when everything flows peacefully in our life, we do not realise how energy-requiring they could be. When most of this energy is used to cope with a difficult situation, we must identify what we can set aside, in order not to drain our psycho-physical resources.
  5. Which unhealthy activities or behaviours should I avoid?
    During stressful times we might engage in pleasant activities that serve us "emotional anesthetics", but that can have harmful side effects. For instance, we might eat too much (or too little), watch Netflix all day long, constant Instagram or Facebook scrolling, avoid seeing friends or avoid gathering places, complain quite often, etc…
  6. Which spiritual practice should I keep it up to increase my wellbeing and my ability to manage my stress?
    Each one of us can have different forms of spiritual practice (formal or infomal) to support themselves. This could be prayer, meditation, journaling, contemplation of nature, walking in nature, etc. What is your spiritual practice?
  7. How can I express my feelings?
    By expressing our feelings, we lower our anxiety levels, we increase our resilience and we lay the foundation to build more satisfying and intimate relationships.  Some might find easy to talk about their feelings, others might engage in activities that mobilize psycho-physical energy (gardening, jogging, dance…) and others might choose to express their own feelings through arts (writing, painting, sculpture,  photography, etc.)
  8. Is there a song, a book, a movie, an object that I can have handy which will remind me to be strong enough to overcome this moment?
    There are books, movies and songs that may help us to cross troubles with courage or that may remind us that we are able to do it. Don’t we all a movie linked to a special moment in our lives and by watching it again we regain confidence? Don’t we have a book that comforts us and gives us courage? During those hard times, let’s remember to watch that movie again, listen to that song or to read that book that reminds us that we can make it through.
  9. Knowing my automatic responses to stressful situations, which advice would I give to myself?
    If I were my best friend, the person that knows me better and loves me the most, what kind of advice would I give to myself?

Important reminder: every single emergency plan must be updated at least once a year.

We all change, therefore activities, people or things that makes us feel good could change as well. It is quite important then to regularly update our psycho-physical emergency plan, taking into consideration our changes and our different stages of life.

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop”

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Author: Paolo Assandri is a  Counselling Psychologist (HCPC and British Psychological Association registered), a Psychotherapist (UKCP) and Psychologist-psychotherapist (Ordine degli Psicologi del Piemonte). He is based in London where he lives and works.

No responsibility disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional health or medical/psychological advice or treatment. The article is for general informational purposes only to improve wellbeing. Consult with a licensed health care practitioner (medical doctor, psychologist or psychotherapist) in case of need. Authors, producers and consultants linked to this article are not responsible for choices nor actions of readers following the read of this article.

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