We have all been there–one minute you're fine, and the next, you're not. Life disruptors can occur in many forms, such as a marriage, birth of a child, a divorce, or an unexpected accident that changes your life temporarily or permanently. Whatever form a life-changing event presents - being prepared can help you manage the situation.
1. Acknowledge your discomfort.
Realize that any change can be a challenge. A consistent routine is what feels best to most people. So, when the expected routine is altered, many people experience stress. It can seem easier to bury your uncomfortable feelings of worry or fear about a significant life change from ourselves, family, or friends than acknowledge them. But, this is the first step in positively dealing with stressors. It is essential to know it is ok to ask for (and accept) help from family, friends, or professionals.
2. Take charge of the change.
Experts tell us that being in the uncomfortable position of wondering "what's going to happen next?" is a significant cause of depression and anxiety. One of the best ways to counteract this is to act. Being proactive and taking steps to understand the change in your life can help you to feel more in control.
3. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”
For positive life events, this isn’t hard to do. But, with negative life events, this concept is more challenging. Today we have tools to help, like practicing mindfulness by focusing on the present to reduce anxiety. Talking to a friend, thinking about what you’re grateful for, or journaling can also be helpful.
4. Get a handle on your financial situation.
Most financial experts suggest you need a cash reserve equal to six months of expenses. If you need $5,000 to survive every month, an emergency fund would be $30,000. Having an emergency fund can provide peace of mind if a crisis occurs.
Many people look to a financial planner or an accountant to help them. Look at your income and your expenses. If you are spending more than you bring in, you might need to talk to someone to help you get things under control.
5. Pay Yourself First
This tip applies to building a savings account for retirement, emergency fund, or other events that you can encounter based on life events. This could mean buying a car, saving for a house, helping your children with college costs, or paying for your daughter's wedding. If your employer offers a 401K or other type of retirement plan, join it, and put as much as you can into it to save for the future.
6. Insurance Policies
Make sure you have insurance coverage for your healthcare and property. Many people turn to insurance brokers for advice on different policies to make sure they have the policies to meet their needs and cover unexpected scenarios.
Here are some insurance policies to consider:
a. Most people get health insurance through their employers (employer-sponsored healthcare). Take time to learn which plan will best serve you and your family’s needs.
b. If you are not getting health insurance through your employer, you can purchase insurance on your own or an individual policy. In this case, you will need to do some research to see which plan is best for you. Connecting with an insurance broker can help you sift through the various companies and policies. Compare multiple policies to determine the different benefits and price.
Whichever category you are in, read your health insurance policy so you are familiar with the rules and what your rights are.
Other types of insurance to cover unexpected events include:
Take the time to research each option and determine if they work for your individual situation.
7. Build a sound support system
During a crisis or planned life-changing event, having supportive people around you is essential. It’s easier to take on challenges with support and help.
8. Have your advance directives in place.
Prepare end-of-life (or if you’re incapacitated) documents to help your family members and healthcare team know what was important to you. Many people don't like to think about death, but it is vital to have your advanced directives in place to help those making end-of-life decisions for you in line with your wishes.
I hope these tips give you something to think about and ways to plan so you are prepared for a life-changing event.
Take good care.
Anne Llewellyn, MS, BHSA, RN, CCM, CRRN, CMGT-BC, CM Fellow
Anne is a registered nurse with over forty-three years of experience in critical care, risk management, case management, patient advocacy, and healthcare education. She can be reached at email@example.com.