How to Stay Calm When You Know You'll Be Stressed

Since your decrease in vision, have you lost everyday items more easily? Misplaced your wallet? Been faced with a difficult medical choice? According to neurologist Daniel Levitin, we all encounter these parts of life - not just those with vision loss. 

I recently heard an intriguing program on NPR following the theme of stress. It featured neurologist Daniel Levitin (who's TED talk is at the bottom of this post). Watch it, if you can - it's candid, funny and honest.  I'll go ahead and flesh out the points he make that are most relevant to Vision Rehabilitation Therapy. 

In the pre-mortem you look ahead and you try to figure out all the things that could go wrong, and then you try to figure out what you can do to prevent those things from happening.

I talk about this idea quite a bit on my site. It is so critical to be self-aware, and anticipate what your most difficult tasks are. By pinpointing and addressing your trickiest Activity of Daily Living, you are taking the bull by the horns, and letting yourself be the driver. Here, I believe Daniel is emphasizing moving from a passive to pro-active state. 

Around the home, designate a place for things that are easily lost. 

This is a big one. With vision loss, too. Baskets, trays, organizational dividers - these are all tools you can use to help designate places for your mail, keys, recorders, etc. 

Take a cell phone picture of your credit cards, your driver's license, your passport, mail it to yourself so it's in the cloud. If these things are lost or stolen, you can facilitate replacement.

I love this idea. Prior to watching Daniel's TED talk I had never done this before. It takes less than 5 minutes, but is so worth it. This is an important step for everyone to take. It's a good idea to take pictures of your paratransit benefit cards, medical benefits cards and other daily-use card you have. 

All of us are going to be in that position, where we have to make a very important decision about the future of our medical care or that of a loved one, to help them with a decision.

Again, here we are talking about anticipation and planning. How do you choose to communication with service providers or medical professionals? Do you prep questions ahead of time? Do you have an insurance advocate that can ensure you are getting the reimbursement you are entitled to?

Now, what is this, the NNT? It's the number of people that need to take a drug or undergo a surgery or any medical procedure before one person is helped.

One of the strongest points of Daniel's talk, was explaining the NNT (number need to treat). You can incorporate this subject into your prepped questions for medical doctors. It's an important topic that (even if it doesn't drive your decision making) will encourage transparency from the medical personnel that are serving you. 

So the idea of the pre-mortem is to think ahead of time to the questions that you might be able to ask that will push the conversation forward. 

Bringing it back around to the first point, the key here is to ANTICIPATE what situations will provide you with stress, and therefore a higher level of cortisol, fogging your thinking. This means we have to do the prep-work ahead of time. Prepare questions, places for your keys, pictures of your important documents. This is how to stay calm. 

You don't want to have to manufacture all of this on the spot. And you also want to think about things like quality of life. 

Quality of life is a big one. When we plan for stress, we ensure our quality of life stays steady. We shouldn't have to constantly improvise and fail miserably in tough situations. Taking 5 minutes, once per week, to take these small steps with help to improve your overall quaility of life.