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Dave Balch: Simplify to Cope

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There is an old saying, “The devil is in the details” which means, basically, that although something may sound simple or at least doable, the details, or the little things, that make it much more difficult that it first seemed.

If we apply that concept to coping with a serious illness or condition, we discover that it’s the little things that are causing you a lot of unnecessary stress. Therefore, it follows that we can reduce our stress by focusing on some of the little things that bother us. Think about it… what little chores or annoyances can you either eliminate or modify?

For example, we chose to have my wife’s cancer treatment 100 miles from home. With no traffic, this means a 2-hour drive each way through downtown Los Angeles, and there is never “no traffic!” How do we simplify that? We make appointments in the late afternoon whenever possible. After the appointment we stay for dinner and then drive home. This way our drive out is mid-day when traffic is lighter, and the drive back is after the rush-hour.

Another example. I hate to admit it but I take several prescription medications every morning. It is a pain to open every bottle every day and put together what I need, so I bought the largest pill case I could find which has 21 separate compartments (morning, noon, and night for a week). Since I only take meds once a day, I put together enough pills for 21 days so each morning there is one less thing to do. I just open a compartment, chug down the pills, and I’m good to go.

Where can you take some shortcuts or do things a little differently? Take a really close look at everything you do and think about how you can either eliminate, combine, or simplify. Don’t gloss over anything, simply assuming there is nothing you can do. You’ll be surprised what you come up with!

This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike. For more thoughts on caregiving, coping strategies, reducing stress, and just plain fun subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at www.CaringAndCoping.com Need a speaker for an upcoming event? I have a program that will knock your socks off! www.ThePPP.org/speaking#handle

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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