Working Under Stress

We lead busy lives. We show up for our kids at their recitals and sports events. We volunteer and we work. Sometimes one activity gets in the way of another, but we’re smart. We figure out how to squeeze in as much as we can without collapsing.

When emotions are involved it gets harder. We have to be focused to remain calm and to have our brain working at full speed and clarity. We have to be super-organized and stick to the schedule we’ve set up so we don’t break down.

I’m a writer now and I have deadlines. I have marketing schedules and social media posts, responses, and takeover parties. I also have a husband who suffered a debilitating stroke without warning signs. We’re scared, but hopeful for a full recovery. Emotional spillover is just below the surface, but I’ve held it at bay.

This post focuses on dealing with a medical emergency, whether it’s a parent, a child, a spouse or a beloved pet. In addition to work, the emotional drain can be heavy. You want to be there, you want to help, but you can’t always. Here are a few comments to consider.

• Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Your loved one needs you to be healthy. You can’t help if you get sick or run-down.

• Try to develop a schedule and stick to it. If you are taking over tasks the loved one did, you need to add them to your own. Write them down. Figure out when best to do them. Try not to feel overwhelmed. If you do, get help.

• If you work outside the home, don’t neglect your job. Unless you have family leave, you need to work. Plus, work can distract you. Your brain needs this time away from personal anxiety.

• If you work at home, you have a double whammy because you may feel like you have to do everything yourself. You don’t. When family or friends visit, use the time to run errands or just get away and find a peaceful place for yourself for an hour.

• I’m a writer. For now I’m at the hospital ten hours a day. I edited a book while sitting bedside. I have interruptions, but I can save my work and get back to what I was doing. I write during my husband’s naps, therapy, meals. When visitors come, I go out to the lobby to write or take care of whatever business I can do on my laptop.

• If you’re the only caregiver, you will have to be super-organized. I find writing things down as I think of them is helpful, along with creating a calendar just for the new activities that have resulted from the unexpected event.

Many of us have experienced family emergencies. Others will face them in the future. Whether it is a child with appendicitis, a spouse with a broken arm, or a pet who needs immediate medical attention, we need to believe that we can get through whatever life throws at us. We can’t predict the future. But most of us discover we are stronger than we think.

And if you’re a writer like I am, you will meet those deadlines and get that next book out.

3 thoughts on “Working Under Stress”

  1. Pam, as you know our family has suffered more loss than one can bare at times; however, there is a strand of DNA in this blood that is stronger than any of us can imagine. Sometimes to a fault, we dedicate and over commit. Taking care of oneself seems to be our struggle, well at least mine. I pray for Mark & send blessings your way. Family is more important than anything to me, so say the word & we’ll be there for you in whatever capacity you see fit. Love always, M

  2. Excellent post Pam. Before I even read it I knew you were giving 110%. While Keith is visiting, let him stay with Mark, and you get some rest Anytime you need us we are available to come and help in any way we can. Keeping both of you in prayer.


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