Whilst helping people with stressful, busy times, I’ve started sharing the idea of a flare plan.  I highly recommend them so here’s more…

This is a concept I came across recently in the chronic health space and I’m a big fan (and bear with me here because I think it’s really relevant for everyone, not just us chronic health-ers).  With MCAS, I can have flare ups where my health issues become more acute.  Rather than an instant deterioration, they tend to be a gradual decline on an already erratic pattern and so they can be tricky to spot until they’ve really taken hold. And by then it can be tough to work out what can help, and it takes more time to turn things back round.

The idea of a flare plan is capturing a simple list of basic things – food, supplements, activities – which you know support you when the system is inflamed (as well as awareness of what has to be removed or pared back).  The process involves creating the list when relatively well so you can think clearly and it’s available when you need it.  And then supporting this with a daily practice of checking in, even for just a few minutes so you can spot the early signs of decline.

So what’s this got to do with me?

Well, I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately who are hitting stressful, busy times when there’s just too much to deal with, and they’re spinning into overload coupled with self recrimination for not managing.  And so we’ve been thrashing out some flare plans.

That means planning for those acute “squeeze” times when there’s just too much to do.  What helps?  What are the essentials? And as importantly, what shortcuts are possible?  What can be outsourced or postponed?  What can be paused?

It’s a really useful process and it is not as simple as it first might seem. Regular stumbling blocks include:

  • This is how I/we always do it
  • This is what’s expected
  • These are my high standards and I can’t compromise on them
  • I can’t ask for help

Not easy things to overcome (hello, this is where a coach comes in) but so vital for making change.  It can help to start with a blank sheet of paper, work in a creative space where nothing’s off the table and remember, this is just a short term solution.  This isn’t what’s needed if you’re constantly running on empty – it’s for those nightmare-ish days/weeks when everything hits at once.

So what would be on your flare plan?  And how can you check in regularly to spot when it’s needed, in advance or super early as the stress builds?

P.S. another top tip: always make some time for self care in your flare plan – the busier you are, the more you need it.  When time’s short it’s the first thing to go out the window, but look for small and simple actions which bring you back to you – check you my Mindful First Aid Kit and Senses blogs for ideas.