# How to Manage Stress Like an ER Doctor Last week, things got busy. In addition to all the usual goings on, we also had stomach bugs, colds and hospital visits. And life started to feel what I would previously have described as "Crazy Busy". That was until I listened to [Darria Long's TedTalk](https://youtu.be/by5oCr8bQ5E) on TED Health, "How to manage your stress like an ER doctor". In the talk, she says that "Crazy Busy" is a phrase you will never hear her use despite all the many things she has going on in her life as well as her job as an ER Doctor. And it's a term she wants everyone else to stop using, too. She explains that when we are in Crazy Busy Mode, we are less capable of handling the busy. When our stress hormones rise, our memory, judgement and impulse control deteriorate, and the parts of our brain responsible for anger and anxiety are activated. ## Crazy Busy Vs Ready Mode Now, although we may all process stress in the same way, how we react to it is up to us. We can choose to perceive ourselves as Crazy Busy, or we can choose to see ourselves, as Long suggests, as being in "Ready Mode". And being in Ready Mode means knowing that no matter what happens, we can handle it. > "Even on those days when you would swear you were being punked, we're not afraid of it. Because we know that whatever comes in through those ER double doors, that we can handle it. That we're ready. That's Ready Mode." ## Relentlessly triage Long says that we need to be relentlessly triaging all the things we have to do in our lives. When we are in Crazy Busy Mode, we react to every task, every todo, and every challenge, with the same response... URGENT! But in Ready Mode, we triage and prioritise by *degree* of urgency. We need to know our Reds.[^2] Because the fact is, we cannot do everything all at once. And nor do we need to. Hence, we need to triage. We need to decide on those things that are important right now and those that can wait. Or maybe even take off the list altogether.[^1] ## Get out of your own head When we are in Crazy Busy Mode, we start to have these thoughts come in. The anger, the anxiety, the fear. And problems come when we let our inner thoughts take over. But this doesn't have to be the case. Because when we actively put our focus on someone or something else, we can get out of our own way and let compassion guide us instead. ## Final thoughts As I was writing this, I literally had a call from school that my eldest wasn't feeling well and I needed to pick him up. Which meant that everything I had planned to do for the rest of the day, the week, would be thrown out. Now, I could have made myself Crazy Busy trying to fit a sick child into my already full list of 'Urgent' things I needed to be doing. But instead, I triaged. My son became my red. And everything else fell in line. Because when I stop seeing myself as Crazy Busy, when I realise that not everything is a Red on my list, I step into Ready Mode. I let compassion lead the way, and I know that no matter what happens, I can handle it. And so can you. [^1]: ^"Now there's one last triage level that we use in the worst scenarios. And that is black. Those patients for whom there is nothing we can do. Where we must move on. And although it is gut-wrenching, I mention it because you each have your own equivalent black tasks in your life. These are items that you must take off your list. And I think many of you know what I'm talking about. For me, this was the fundraiser. I had to step down. Because as we in the ER know, if you try to do everything, you have no hope of saving your reds". ~ Darria Long [^2]: In medical terms, Red = immediately life-threatening. Yellow = serious but not immediately life-threatening. Green = minor.