Change is one of the few constants in life. Major life changes can occur unexpectedly or as a result of careful planning. Not all major life changes make you feel immediately clear, secure, and ready to take on the world, so when life as you know it is turned upside down, moving forward successfully isn’t always quick or simple – it’s a transitional process.
Some of the biggest (and most stressful) life events
According to the Holmes Rahe Stress Scalei, the biggest life events you may have to overcome include:
Buying a home
Divorce or separation
Pregnancy or gaining a new family member
Major changes to business
How to manage sudden life changes
If there’s a common factor among all of these changes it’s that they induce psychological states where you’re more likely to be emotional and reactive than logical and rational. This can lead to poor outcomes which only fulfil your short term needs, or worse, cause further detriment to all involved.
One of the best ways to remove yourself from that reactive state is mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness can help being more self-aware, having the ability to see your situation from an outsider’s perspective, and thinking before you act.
Here are six actionable things you can do right now to help you deal with changes:
Get a mentor. A friend, family member or amenable acquaintance who has been through what you’re going through. They’ll be able to give you a fresh perspective and (evidence-based) hope for the future
Give yourself time. Take it one day at a time and if you don’t think you can get through a day, try a shorter time period.
Similarly, concentrating on small tasks, one at a time, can help make a seemingly impossible task seem much more manageable. For example, take income insecurity. You may be feeling anxious because you don’t know how to pay for all of the expenses you currently have. But listing your expenses in priority order can help clarify just how little you have to spend to get by.
Schedule ‘down time’ while you’re going through a major change. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, a massage, shopping, or a good old snooze, mark it in your diary – and don’t let anyone cross it out. This can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed at other times – such as when you’re making an important financial decision.
Take action. Putting off work involved with a major life change just means the stress snowballs. Even taking a small step can help take the pressure off. For example, if you’re feeling a bit restless about being retired, enquire about volunteering positions. You don’t have to make a commitment, but you’ve opened yourself up to the possibility of contributing your skills to a cause.
Ask yourself how much of your situation you can really control. Try to be objective – pretending you’re giving advice to a loved one can help. Letting go of what you can’t control allows you to spend mental energy on what really matters.
The wisdom of 20/20 hindsight
After making it through to the other side of a major life event, it’s important to reassess your financial situation. You may think that you’ve dealt with all the financial implications. But doing a review of your finances can still yield benefits.
If you’ve recently been through a big life change, get in touch with us to help reassess and plan for a prosperous future.
i https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_ stress_scale