NPW Self Curious: How to survive chaos

Whether it’s the zombie apocalypse or a flat tyre, there’s nothing you can do when chaos strikes. Or is there?


You don’t know what the chaos is, but you can be ready to fight. Imagine you’re in charge of an emergency service. Let’s say you’re Fireman Sam – well, Firefighter Sam – we include everyone here at NPW Self Curious. Pontypandy needs you – and a fire engine that starts, hoses that work, and a well-skilled firefighter ready to attend to all the village’s needs. Lifestyles that have a bit less daily adrenaline than Firefighter Sam’s can still be ready to save the day.

Make hay while the sun shines. If you show your future fire-fighting self some love when all around you is calm and peaceful you’ll find the reserves are there to sustain you when things kick off. Make a lasagna for the freezer when you have a free rainy Sunday afternoon and you’ll have something nice for tea when you get home at 10pm unable to see straight.

Consider the health of your key relationships too. Whether it’s work or the rest of the jive, check in on your main people even when you don’t have something to do together. It’s easier to scramble if you can anticipate how others are feeling and how they’re likely to act.

The final thing when it comes to preparation is your batteries. Are you charged up physically, mentally and spiritually? None of us is running on all cylinders all the time, but it’s a good idea to take stock now and again to check whether you need to give yourself a bit of a top up. Go back to yoga class, reinstate those lunchtime walks, or put a drink with a friend in the diary. There are plenty of ideas in the back catalog of these blogs and #weeklynudge @marathonshine over on Twitter if you need some inspiration.


Pause. The best way you can react to chaos is to pause. Do less, say less, be discerning about what to sweat and what to let go. This is weather. This too shall pass.

Change what you can, accept what you can’t. The chaos may change you, those around you or your surrounding situation in ways beyond your control. Control what you can with grace and compassion for yourself and for others. Influence what you can, if you have clarity of purpose and enough positive energy. And try not to worry about the rest.

Be an island (sometimes). You can’t do this alone, that is for sure. You have great relationships (see preparation, above).

It could get worse… but you can handle it. Sorry. But let’s be realistic, things often get worse before they get better. And by being honest with yourself about how bad things can get you’ll have the best idea of how much support you’ll need.

If it all gets too much, take a deep breath. What would you say to a friend who was feeling overwhelmed? Maybe you’d suggest they take a five year view. Or if it’s super big chaos, a ten year view. Or a fifty year one. Zoom out until it is in perspective and hold onto that. Disclaimer: the only thing is that his doesn’t work for is climate change. When it comes to climate change we just need to feel the fear and act on that one every day


Recovery takes time and resource.

Loads of time. More than you think. Have you taken enough time to recover? Take some more. Then phase your re-entry. Feel your way. Lean into your relationships and your self-care routines. Be kind.

Whatever your chaos: whether it was fair or not, whether it ended up making things better or worse, whether you gained or whether you lost, whether it ended for good or you feel fear it’ll return. It changed you and you survived, which means you grew. You’re stronger in some way. It’s part of your story. And it’s made you even more ready for when the next storm hits.

Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.

Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
Read more blogs here.



Leave a Reply