Mental health issues can be very difficult to manage, but preparation is helpful and could be lifesaving. Just as other emergencies can be handled better with plans and necessary supplies in place (winter storms, power outages, and emergency childcare or health problems), you have control in quiet times to think of what you might need in a crisis, and you can decide on management plans that you approve of ahead of time. With many aspects of illness outside your control, this is one area that can give you confidence. You are the main person responsible for your care.

How can you create a crisis management plan? Write down emergency numbers. These can include the National Suicide Prevention hotline (1-800-277-8255) as well as any other contact information you or emergency personnel might need. This should include your doctor, employer (if you think your boss needs to be notified you will be missing work), and anyone responsible for your children. A list of medication and insurance cards in your wallet, as well as timely refills, is a good way to make check-ins quicker if you need medical care. Some people add a health directive, too. Information about this is available from your doctor.

What comforts you? Put a kit together with some of these items to use on days when you need them. Everything from a fidget gadget to a chocolate snack is worthy. These stress relievers have a basis in science. Fidgeting (or movement) can calm the nervous system, and a little chocolate is a well-known soother of the soul. You can even write encouraging notes to yourself, so you know this time will pass and you will feel better. Add a reminder to call or visit someone whose understanding will help you get…

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