# Finding Focus in the Fog – A workbook

WHAT DO I DO NOW – FNDING FOCUS IN THE FOG

This is the handout from an all day workshop that I gave on navigating the challenges of life in the midst of a chronic or long term illness.  I offer it here for anyone who is interested in working through the steps to help them find some clarity in deciding how to begin to move forward despite their challenges.

Consider these possibilities:

• You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness and don’t know what’s ahead or where to go next?
• Your illness has taken a downward turn and you’re afraid and don’t know what to do now?
• Someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness and you haven’t a clue how this is going to affect your lives or how you can help?
• You feel overwhelmed and frightened and don’t know where to go to find answers?
• You are feeling so stressed you can hardly cope with today, never mind the future!
• You want to be positive and have hope but can’t figure out how to do that?

When you are diagnosed with cancer or a chronic disease it can seem overwhelming. You find yourself feeling afraid and longing to figure out what to do first.

The hope and the answers you are searching for lie within yourself. You have the wisdom and the power the take control of your situation but you often just need a little help to find the first step.

Taking a step forward is the most important thing you can do to lessen your feelings of stress and fear and to regain your feeling of independence.

Determining what that first step might be and how to motivate you to actually take it is the focus of this handout.

1. WHAT WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO BEGIN?
• What will help you find the desire and the energy to take that first step? What will motivate you to keep going?
• The answer to that question is you are motivated by those things that matter most to you. The things you value at the core of who you are will be the key to helping you want to move forward.

There are several ways to determine your values and tap into what is important to you. Read the 4 exercises below and try one or more of them.

1. Read the list of value words at the end of this handout. When you read the list, mark the words that jump out at you. These will be words that you identify with and believe to be so important they influence the direction of your life.
2. Close your eyes and imagine a time in your life when you felt totally at peace and happy. What were you doing? Where were you and who was with you? What was important to you about this situation?
3. Imagine you were caught in a fire in your house and were only able to take 3 things with you when the firemen came to the rescue. What would you take? What was important about those things?
4. If someone was writing a speech to honour you, what would you most like them to say? What does that tell you about what is important to you?

• From the previous exercises, write down a list of the values you have identified as being most important in your life.
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

HOW MUCH INFLUENCE DOES STRESS PLAY IN YOUR LIFE?

• When you feel out of control and confused due to an unexpected challenge such as a chronic illness, you experience symptoms of stress. When you are unable to satisfy your longing for the things that really matter to you, you may become frustrated and discouraged.
• The symptoms of stress fall into 4 categories and can interfere significantly with your ability to cope. They may accentuate some of the symptoms of the disease you are already experiencing.

The four areas where we experience the symptoms of stress are:

1. Behavioural symptoms: procrastination, withdrawal from friends and family, increase or decrease in appetite, decrease in energy, inability to sleep, low motivation to participate in normal activities of life or the use of drugs or alcohol to cope
2. Emotional symptoms: feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, low frustration level, excessive crying or angry outbursts.
3. Mental symptoms: loss of motivation and concentration, decreased ability to complete daily tasks as your mind is consumed with worry and fear, decreased memory, reduced capacity for decision making, poor problem solving ability and loss of hope.
4. Physical symptoms: excessive fatigue, physical weakness, headaches, lower back pain, muscle tension leading to tremors and spasms, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, increased respiratory rate, irritable bowel syndrome and digestive complaints.

List the symptoms that you have that you think might be related to stress:

 1 5 2 6 3 7 4 8

The most important thing you can do to decrease your stress is to find a small step forward and to take it with courage and hope. Taking a conscious and positive action to deal with your situation is the single most important thing you can do to improve how you feel.

1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT STEP TO TAKE?
• How do you decide what step to take first when the mountain is so foggy you can’t even see your feet? What is the question that you need to find the answer to in order to open the first door?
• The begin to solve this question, you start by identifying the parts of your life that are most important to you. What aspects of your day and of your week are you trying to juggle?
• After you have identified the parts of your life, you next evaluate each category and notice which parts of your life are working well and which parts need attention. Which aspect of your life do you rank the lowest?
• The area that you rank the lowest is the one that needs attention first and is the place where you will look to find that first step you need to take.
• On the next page I have drawn a circle and listed several different categories that represent possible parts of your everyday life. I have filled in some of the categories that Donna felt were most appropriate to her before her DBS surgery. Pick the ones that seem most relevant to you and write them in the spaces on the blank circle at the end of this handout. If you need more than eight spaces, feel free to divide one of the existing ones into two parts. Consider your situation – do these sections represent the most important parts of your life? What other sections to you want to add?
• Now that you have labeled all the sections, I want you to rate your degree of satisfaction with each category. By drawing a line across each section (see diagram), rate how happy you are with each of these areas of your life. The outside line of the circle represents 100% satisfied and the inside of the circle means 0% satisfied. I have marked this circle on the next page with the degrees of satisfaction as Donna felt they applied to her prior to her DBS surgery.

WHEEL OF LIFE

Independence                                                                           Activities of Daily Life                                                                     Friends                                                                                    Significant other or spouse                                                                 Balance                                                                                             Rest and Solitude                                                                          Faith                                                                                                Money                                                                                         Personal Growth                                                                         Quality of Life                                                                               Health                                                                                                   Fun

1. WHICH AREA NEEDS TO BE MANAGED FIRST?
• When you look at the sections of the circle, which one has the lowest satisfaction rating? Which section do you know intuitively holds the key to improving the situation you are struggling with?

Area I want to address first:__________________________________________________________________________________________________

1. WHAT IS THE QUESTION YOU MOST NEED AN ANSWER TO?
• Based on the category you have chosen that you want to change, what is the question you would most like to find an answer to? ________________________________________________________
1. WHAT POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS MIGHT YOU TRY?
• Brainstorm all the possible ways you can think of to find an answer to your question. Don’t be concerned how practical they are – just write down all the ideas that pop into your head. You can also ask your family or friends to help you generate more ideas.
 BRAINSTORM SOLUTIONS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

1. WHICH SOLUTION BEST MOVES YOU IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT TO GO? WHICH MAKES THE MOST SENSE?
• Fill in the chart on the next page: For each solution you have considered, write in the positive and negative aspects of doing it.
 SOLUTION POSITIVE OUTCOME NEG. OUTCOME

The solution I have chosen is_____________________________________

1. WHAT VALUES WILL YOU BE HONOURING IF YOU CHOOSE TO MAKE THIS SOLUTION YOUR FIRST STEP FORWARD?

The more you honour your values with the solution you choose, the more motivated you will be to meet the challenge. Your values will also help you stay motivated when you feel discouraged.

Solution I’ve chosen:__________________________________________________

 VALUE (from page 2) HOW IT IS HONOURED BY THIS SOLUTION i.e. independence Makes me feel good to help myself
1. WHAT AFFECT WILL THIS SOLUTION HAVE ON THE OTHER PARTS OF YOUR LIFE?

Fill in the chart below and look carefully at the affects this solution will have on all the other areas of your life. How wonderful would that feel?!!!

Notice the ripple effect. Notice how much you can improve your total situation by starting with one small step.

Action you are going to take:___________________________________

 AREA OF LIFE EFFECT Independence/Quality of Life Rest and Solitude Money Physical Environment Family Friends Activities of daily life Health Significant Other

1. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO MAKE THIS CHANGE?

List the things you need to do now to take those first steps. Make sure they are concrete and manageable.

 1 2 3 4 5 6

So, how do you feel now!

You have figured out what you want to do to take that first step! You have also figured out what is important to you and what will motivate you to go for it!

The next step is to do it! Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go! You will feel stronger and more confident as soon as you do. The fog will part slightly in front of you and the path will seem a little clearer.

Celebrate your effort and pat yourself on the back for moving forward. Whatever the outcome, know that there are many other small steps waiting to be taken.

I believe you can do it! Believe in yourself, as well!

WHEEL OF LIFE

Independence                               Balance

Family                                              Career

Spouse or Significant Other    Health

Physical Environment                Faith

Rest and Solitude                         Personal Growth

Money                                              Activities of Daily Living

Quality of Life                               Fun

CLARIFICATION OF VALUES

The following list is representative of words or phrases that illustrate values or things that are so important to you that they have a major impact on your life. Identify about 10 words or groups of words on this list that jump out at you when you read them. You may group a few words with similar meaning together if that is the best way to express your value. For example:honesty, integrity, and truthfulness express a similar value so would count a 1 of the ten on your list. Have fun with the exercise and trust your intuition!

Accomplishment                                                                       Humour                                                                               Truthfulness                                                                               Accuracy                                                                                                                                                                                                Independence                                                                                  Trust

Achievement                                                                                    Integrity                                                                                        Vitality

Acknowledgement                                                                         Intimacy                                                                                               Zest

Altruism                                                                                     Learning                                                                                   Tranquility

Loyalty                                                                                       Autonomy                                                                                     Magic

Balance                                                                                         Mastery                                                                                         Beauty                                                                                       Moderation                                                                                   Bonding                                                                                           Nature                                                                                         Certainty                                                                                                                                                                                                           Nurture                                                                                                 Clarity                                                                                         Openness

Collaboration                                                                          Orderliness                                                                         Commitment                                                                       Participation

Comradeship                                                                         Partnership                                                                           Connecting                                                                                                                                                                                                          Peace                                                                                          Contribution                                                                        Performance

Creativity                                                                                     Personal Growth                                                               Determination                                                                                                                                                                                                   Privacy                                                                                     Directness                                                                                             Power

Elegance                                                                                 Recognition

Emotional Health                                                                     Resilience

Empowerment                                                                                Results

Environment                                                                                      Risk Taking

Excellence                                                                                   Romance

Faith                                                                                               Security

Family                                                                                                   Self Expression

Free Spirit                                                                                 Sensuality

Focus                                                                                               Service

Freedom                                                                                         Solitude

Full Self Expression                                                               Spirituality

Fun                                                                                                 Success

Growth                                                                                                 To Be Known

Harmony