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  • Writer's pictureChristina Rhyser

How to PLAN for Unexpected Stress

blank paper on a clipboard ready to plan ahead for unexpected stress

Dear Christy,

I'm writing to say THANK YOU for helping me to create my Emergency Burnout Response Plan a few months ago because I suddenly need it and I don't know what I would do without it. Life got really hard, really fast and having extra help and resources lined up and ready to go has been saving me.

Everything was going pretty good since we last talked, but then my dad died in a car accident, and I lost my job the same week! I've been so sad and so scared and still don't know what I'm going to do actually, but I still have to take care of my kids. The people on my list have been there for me just like they said they would be, and the premade freezer meals got us through the entire first week. I'm trying to practice the tools I learned from you to manage my stress and stay calm as much as possible. Nothing is easy yet, but definitely easier than it would have been.

Anyways, I just wanted to drop a note and say thanks for everything. I appreciate you and our work together!


P.S. My friend was asking me about my EBRP and is interested in making one for herself. Could you please send me a copy of the article you wrote summarizing the steps to create one? Thank you!


Dear Rebecca,

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. You spoke so fondly of him, and I know he will be missed by your whole family. I'm also sorry to hear you lost your job! What horrible timing. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to offer support from my end - even if you just need to chat, I'm here.

I am happy to know that your EBRP has been doing its job and helping you out, and I'm happy that you were able to find some people to step in and support you. Community is good.

If you haven't tried EFT yet (the tapping technique we talked about), I recently met a woman who offers online sessions that you might find helpful. I will send you her contact info just in case you'd like to reach out.

Otherwise, it sounds like you're navigating these difficult days as well as you can under the circumstances. Keep doing what you're doing and reach out anytime. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Take care,


P.S. Here is the article you requested. Share away!


Creating an Emergency Burnout Response Plan to Manage Unexpected Stress

While we may not be able to predict when unexpected stress will strike, we can choose to prepare ourselves for its arrival by creating an Emergency Burnout Response Plan. This plan serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and pressures of unexpected stress with grace and honor, empowering us to respond effectively and regain some sense of control in the midst of chaos.

Step 1: Identify Triggers and Warning Signs

The first step in creating an Emergency Burnout Response Plan is to identify the triggers and warning signs of burnout and overwhelm. These may include physical symptoms such as fatigue or headaches, emotional signs such as irritability or mood swings, or behavioral indicators such as increased procrastination or withdrawal from family activities. By recognizing these warning signs early on, we can take proactive steps to prevent burnout and maintain our well-being.

Step 2: Build a Support Network

Next, it's essential to build a support network of trusted friends, family members, and professionals who can offer guidance, encouragement, and assistance during times of unexpected stress. Reach out to loved ones and let them know how they can support you in times of need. Consider seeking professional help from therapists, counselors, or support groups who specialize in stress management and coping strategies.

Step 3: Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential for maintaining our physical, emotional, and mental well-being, especially during times of unexpected stress. Incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature. Prioritize activities that bring you joy and relaxation, and be mindful of your limits and boundaries.

Step 4: Develop Coping Strategies

Develop coping strategies that help you manage stress and navigate challenges effectively. These may include deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, positive self-talk, or engaging in hobbies and activities that bring you comfort and solace. Experiment with different coping techniques and find what works best for you in times of need.

Step 5: Create a Flexible Action Plan

Finally, create a flexible action plan that outlines specific steps you can take to manage unexpected stress when it arises. This plan should include practical strategies for addressing immediate needs, such as contacting emergency services or seeking medical attention, as well as long-term strategies for rebuilding your resilience and coping with ongoing challenges. Be prepared to adapt your plan as needed based on the nature of the stressor and your individual circumstances.


While the unpredictability of stress can be daunting, the proactive approach of creating an Emergency Burnout Response Plan empowers us to confront challenges with resilience and grace. By identifying triggers, building a robust support network, prioritizing self-care, developing coping strategies, and crafting a flexible action plan, we can navigate unforeseen stressors with confidence and regain a sense of control amidst chaos.


Need some help to plan for unexpected stress?

Want to chat more about parental wellness?

Ready to re-create a life you love?



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