Thursday 8 January 2009

Coping with disasters

I woke up the other day to find the house freezing cold. It wasn't just the January weather - the coldest for several years - the central heating hadn't come on. I pressed switches on the boiler, turned the timer and adjusted the thermostat without any joy. Then I panicked.

I don't react well to things like this. I start to imagine the worst that can happen and doubt my ability to deal with it.

In this instance I was thinking it might be days before I could get an engineer out, they might have to order a part that would take weeks to arrive. It would all cost more than I could afford and maybe I'd just get ripped off anyway.

These are, of course, all things that might possibly happen, but they might not and I wasn't doing myself any favours by thinking about what else might go wrong rather than tackling the immediate situation.

"You're a competent woman and witch," I reminded myself. "Take a few deep breaths and some Bach Rescue Remedy - and maybe a cup of strong coffee - then just get on and sort this out."

Meditation is good for stress, but it is easy to think you don't have time to meditate if you are facing a big problem. But just taking a few deep, slow breaths in and out, and clearing your mind of all those unnecessary fears, is an effective form of meditation.

I usually try to take half a dozen or so long, slow breaths and think to myself: "Breath in calm, breath out calm. I have coped with problems before. I can cope with this now. In the future I will look back and be proud of myself, and what I did."

A good little book about meditation that I've had on my shelf for a number of years is Instant Meditation for Stress Relief, by John Hudson. It offers about a dozen quick and simple exercises and guided visualisations for dealing with stressful situations as well as explaining the basics of meditation and how to go about it.

The book recommends visualising somewhere you feel safe, so you can call up the image whenever you feel insecure. It also recommends stretching and sitting comfortably to help yourself relax physically. These are all things that can help when dealing with problems.

Mind you, it is very easy to think of ways to deal with stress after the stressful situation is over. When you are right in the middle of tackling a disaster, sometimes the best thing to do is just deal with the immediate emergency one thing at a time, then take those deep breaths and sit down after it's all over.

The heating engineer said he could come the next day, and he did. He fixed the heater quickly and it didn't cost too much. While I was waiting, I dug an old electric heater out of the loft and rediscovered the pleasure of sitting in front of the fire toasting my back while using my laptop or reading a book.

I really had nothing at all to worry about.

Note: This is not medical advice. Always consult a qualified expert before taking any remedy. If you are unwell, see your GP.

Nelsons Bach Rescue Remedy dropper 10ml
Instant Meditation for Stress Relief: Breathing Techniques and Mental Exercises for an Immediate Sense of Calm and Well-being (New Life Library)


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, those pesky mundane problems do test us so. Sometimes in the middle of something like this--when I manage to keep my wits about me--I just pause, breathe and the panic seems to subside.

Sometimes. But glad you're warm again!

I'm assuming you don't have natural gas? I hear Russia is cutting Europe off. Rather drastic.

Badwitch said...

I do have gas central heating - most people in the UK do. The UK produces quite a bit of its own gas from the North Sea, which is why it is a popular fuel here. I'm not really sure if we buy in any gas from Russia, but I don't think we are one of the countries Russia has refused to supply.

Anonymous said...

What was wrong with it? We had a crappy old boiler for so long that I got quite adept at fixing a lot of minor problems. Most often the system pressure had dropped too low and it simply needed recharging - which involved turning a tap on for a couple of seconds! If we'd had to pay an engineer to come out every time it broke down, well that would have cost us dear.

Oh, and the UK imports about 2% of its gas from Russia.

Badwitch said...

The thermostat had broken and needed a new part. Luckily the engineer had that part and the cost was covered by our insurance. So, apart from being very cold for a while, it was no big deal in the end.