January 21, 2020

By Becky Brasfield

After a crisis, recovery can be challenging. Our lives are left in turmoil caused by the stressful situation we just managed to overcome. With the worst behind us, we have to pick up the pieces. But unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for how to take steps toward the future. So how do we move forward?

Determining Priorities

By prioritizing our goals and responsibilities, we can create an action plan. That action plan helps us reduce stress and live according to our values and priorities. Prioritizing also frees up energy we may be expending on the anxiety of not knowing what to do. Not knowing what to focus on can cause us to feel overwhelmed or even lead to another setback. 

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves to help clarify our priorities.

  • What issues are most important to me?
  • ​What do I think about the most?
  • What is causing me the most stress?
  • What needs my attention right now? 

Getting Proper Self-Care and Support

After a setback, we can’t place enough emphasis on taking care of ourselves. Self-care encompasses so much, from being emotionally kind and gentle to ourselves, to tending to our daily grooming and health to getting adequate nutrition. Self-care also means being supported by caring people who can help us feel better. 
Reminders for different aspects of self-care and support include asking ourselves:

  • What can I do to be kind to myself today?
  • How can I take care of my needs right now?
  • How do I really feel?
  • What kind of support do I need from others?
  • What kind of support do I need to provide for myself?
  • What kind of self-care or support will help me achieve my goals? 

Attending to Paperwork

Many of us don't like it, but attending to paperwork is a normal part of recovery. Medical bills, prescriptions, resumes, emails and documentation are all types of paperwork that may require our attention. Straightening out our lives after going through a hard time can be even more difficult if we don’t enjoy writing or filling out forms, but it’s okay to ask for help. 
The following questions may be helpful in getting ahead and getting organized in our paperwork:

  • What paperwork do I need to request? What paperwork do I need to provide?
  • Are all my bills up to date? Do I have copies of all my payments and invoices? 
  • Do I need to update my resume or cover letter? Do I need to update my contact information?
  • Do I need to send any emails or make any phone calls? 

There’s no right or wrong way to recover from a crisis. The goal is to lessen stressful situations in order to create more peaceful ones and increase our wellness. Getting organized and creating an action plan is a great way to start a new beginning in our lives. 
Going through a crisis is one of the hardest parts of living with mental illness, so if you can get through that, you can also get through this process of moving forward.
Becky Brasfield is a Certified Recovery Support Specialist and mental health advocate in Chicago, Illinois. Becky has been volunteering with NAMI Chicago since 2013 and was a keynote speaker at the 2015 NAMI Light the Darkness Mental Health Awareness gala. 


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