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When you have reminded yourself, in a physical, cellular level way, that anyone can only ever really do one thing at a time, then and only then do you consider what is the next step you want to take.

After a diagnosis of a disease or illness, whether one had an inkling that something was wrong or it came as a total shock, everything in life can feel uncertain, confusing and "up in the air." Plans already made might need to change.

Lifestyles, routines, work and careers may all need to change in ways we don't like or aren't ready to shift. We all create what we hope to be our best lives and most of us don't appreciate being interrupted on our quests towards our goals. A diagnosis feels like an unwelcome interloper that causes anxiety and stress and is just plain hard.

Where do we go from here?

I just stopped for a moment, in writing this blog, and made myself a cup of tea, opened a window for a deep breath of fresh early morning air and sat back down.

The first thing I recommend when absorbing this type of hard news is to stop thinking ahead. Stop figuring out what steps might need to be taken because of your new condition - get out of your head and into your body.

Take a moment.

Take a day or a few days. Enact some ritual that, in its very normal routine existence, brings you back to yourself. For me, I make some tea, breathe deeply and do some yoga.

Then, when you have reminded yourself, in a physical, cellular level way, that anyone can only ever really do one thing at a time, then and only then do you consider what is the next step you want to take.

No one can formulate an entire plan all at once. Consider when you first fell in love, got pregnant, survived a natural disaster or started a long trip away from home. Could following a plan of every step you imagined you might need to take have benefited you? No matter how detailed a planner you may be, the answer is no.

After absorbing the news, take the one step that makes sense to you. This step could be something like sharing your news with a trusted person, making an appointment to learn about treatment plans, making a call to arrange a few days off work or any number of possibilities.

What first steps in your life have you taken when faced with a life-altering situation?

Michelle Terrill Heath's website is michelleterrillheath.com. Email her at michelleterrillheath@gmail.com.

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