The Power and Peace of Mind of Preparing
I would love to say I am a, “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” kind of gal, but I am not. I like being prepared, so I am not caught off guard by things that could be avoided with a little planning.
Now that I have stated my ideal, let’s talk about reality.
CO-VID brought preparation to the forefront of most of our minds.
It started with the suggestion of having two weeks' worth of food, medicine, and supplies.
It started with timelines of no masks required, to needing masks, and locating masks to wear.
It meant the cancellation of school, work, life’s celebrations, and mourning the loss of connections. It meant rescheduling important medical appointments, putting routine checkups and car repairs on hold, to figuring out how to locate essentials and shopping for them safely.
Everyone is on some level of exhausted, and rightly so, it’s been a tough year.
So with the prediction that this winter will require us to "hunker down" again, we do have a slight advantage. We can now say, “This isn’t our first rodeo.”. We are starting to reflect and filter out what has worked for us and what has not.
With that said, how can we prepare for the upcoming months and still find joy in the world around us?
First, let’s look at the factors that prevent us from reaching our goal of preparedness.
There are many reasons we aren’t prepared:
-Lack of time
Preparation takes time. You need a plan or multiple plans. You need to think through different scenarios and figure out what’s best for you and your family.
It means finding time to think. That is not easy to do if you are already stressed, lack sleep, don’t feel well, or become overwhelmed by the process of taking inventory of where you are at this moment.
Planning is work.
-Lack of money
This is an obvious one.
Many people live paycheck to paycheck (ahem, looks around and points to self) and while it would be great to have stocked shelves of medical supplies and food, it isn’t practical for most of us to be “set” for long periods of time.
-Lack of support,
Whether is it physical, mental, or emotional, planning is easier with support.
If you live with a chronic (or even temporary) illness, preparation is hard because sometimes you just have the strength to do the basics of getting through the day. I know this from personal experience. Once in a while, you have an awesome day and you think, “I got this!” and tick a few boxes off your to-do list, but most days are spent thinking, “What do I need to do to survive or maintain some semblance of order in my life?”.
For others, they may be in a relationship that drains their resources and energy. You may have people in your life, but you may not have support. It is a lonely feeling. Taking a line from the Ed Sheeran song, Beautiful People, “Surrounded, but still alone” is not how we are meant to live, but sometimes, that is where we find ourselves.
-We just don’t know what to prepare for.
The only reason I started paying attention to COVID was because of the Chinese students I taught on-line. At the beginning of January, some said that their schools may close for a couple of weeks to clean for a virus that was making everyone sick. By the end of January, Chinese New Year celebrations had been canceled for some regions of China, and some factories and schools were closed. That is a big deal for China, and information you don’t ignore. So part of me thought, since it’s an airborne virus, it will make it’s' way here, because well, it travels by air.
With that in mind, I didn’t consciously start physically preparing, but I did start looking at the world news. One of my issues, and you’ll come to find I have many, is that our news does very little to cover world news.
I have always been one to have basic food items. That comes from growing up in Vermont and those winter storms and icy roads and power outages that made you feel like a pioneer.
I did however struggle to find many products that would have been useful (Hello all of you paper towel-toilet paper-soup-bread-oatmeal-hand sanitizer-hoarders).
So, now that we’ve pulled back the veil to look at the dark side of preparing, let’s look at the things we can do to prepare, not just for a pandemic, but for other unpleasantries that show up in our lives.
Plan in Stages, Not All At Once. (Time)
Pick an area of your life you can plan for realistically.
Starting small may not seem the way to go, but hear me out.
My focus this month has been creating my Sick Kit. When I catch a cold or have the flu, I am down for the count for at least a week. And because we are not supposed to go in public when we are ill, I want to have a kit ready to go if a bug hits.
A little over a month ago, I started jotting down ideas of items I would need or want to get me over the hump of an illness. When something would come to mind, I would send myself a text or write it on a post It where I started the list.
Sick Kit Wish List:
-Check my thermometer (does it work)
- medicine for cold/flu and tummy upsets
-box of tissues
-roll of toilet paper
-instant mashed potatoes
Now chai tea may seem specific, but here’s my thought, if chai tea is what I prefer, let’s try to have that in my kit. As for the last four items, let me explain, all three food items have a long shelf life, all are easy on my stomach and all are easy to prepare when you are exhausted. A friend once told me she had to eat potato chips when she had a sore throat because it felt good to have them scratch the itchiness. We all have our preferences for what makes us feel better.
As for the disposable bowls, (avert your eyes my eco-warriors), the thought of doing dishes, mine or the cats, turns my tummy and can add to my exhaustion, so once in a while, the disposable bowls come out.
Spread Your Purchases Out Over Time. (Money)
Look at your list. What are your priority items?
Every week I would buy something on my wish list.
Luckily, my thermometer was in good shape, so I could look for other things. Week by week, I made little purchases that went towards my kit. It came out to be around $45 total, which got spread out over six weeks. Boy, cold & flu medicine is expensive. Anyway, spread out, it was easier than coming up with $45 all at once.
Now, the items have their own storage spot so they do not get used unless I am ill. If you cannot store items together, label the items with a marker or sticker so neither you nor someone in your family uses it and boom, you find your preparation has gone out the window. When spring comes, and cold and flu season has retreated, you use the remaining items from the kit.
The Little Things Add Up (Support)
If a sick kit is not your priority, think of a potential challenge you would like to be more prepared for. Do you want to stock your shelves with a little more canned food? How do you visualize your holidays? Would buying an extra item a week ease the financial burden of a holiday dinner? Can you do anything now that will make winter more joyful?
What if your planning has to do with bigger issues? How to maneuver through homeschooling, hybrid school, working from home, not working at all, helping a loved one you cannot be with in-person, staying (or getting) healthy.
Preparing for those bigger challenges is daunting if you look at the whole picture at once.
Try the same technique of breaking it down into a chunk you can work on.
What is one thing you can do in the next week that gets you closer to your goal of being prepared? Can you reach out to a person or organization that can help you come up with a plan or ease your stress? Can you become more informed on the subject by reading articles or listening to podcasts? Would exercise help you work out the stress and clear your mind?
How about inspirational readings, meditation, or contemplation to assist your planning?
Preparedness is a mental game just as much, if not more, than having your cupboards stocked.
Listen to your Gut (The Unknown)
I know the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” drives some people crazy, but it’s true. Sometimes we just don’t know where to start or what we are looking for.
And that’s OK. That’s being human and living in a world with other humans. But taking the time to listen to your instincts is priceless. Sometimes something doesn’t sound right or look right, or it stays with us in a way that is unsettling. There is a reason. You don’t have to figure it out immediately, but file it in your head and be aware that there is a reason you feel the way you do.
Preparing for the unexpected gives us power. And power gives us peace of mind.
Need support? Please ask. And keep asking until you get the support you need.
You don’t need to do this alone.
USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) or
The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.
National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence.
And don’t forget your local libraries, colleges, non-profits, area agencies on aging, and mental health associations for additional resources.