Increasingly I’m hearing from program participants and readers of my blog that they are feeling a great deal of anxiety about the changes coming soon in the country’s health insurance system.
A good example is the following question I recently received in my inbox. It summarizes the concerns so well that I decided to answer it here in the hope that others may benefit.
“I am very concerned about what will happen with the proposed new health insurance law. As a woman approaching my 60’s, not employed and caring almost full time for my aging parents, I am terrified about what will happen financially to us. I don’t know how I’ll manage everything if we lose the little bit of help we currently receive.”
You are not alone! Many people are worried, anxious, and apprehensive about how the coming changes in insurance coverage could affect their parents, their dependents and themselves.
Part of the fear that you describe has to do with the fact that the particulars are unknown. Lots of rumors, and snippets of details, have been floating around in the news but no one knows exactly what the real impact is going to be for them. Waiting for a definitive plan is frustrating because it puts you in a state of limbo and “in limbo” is one of the most stressful places to be. It is the space where your future circumstances are unknown, uncertain, and unclear – triggering fear, doubt, anger, anxiety or even panic….
…AND WE BREATHE!
I cannot overemphasize how important it is for you to develop this coping strategy as your support tool. Make it a habit to STOP and just BREATHE for a minute or two. This alone will be enormously helpful – try it, you’ll see! Then, if you decide you want to go further in taking the additional steps suggested below, taking this initial pause will serve as a great reminder to do just that.
The more steps you use, and the more often you pause to give yourself the healing benefits of this simple act, the more they will help you stay clear-headed and calm. That will serve you well throughout the coming unfolding of events and information, since it is crucial to understanding your alternatives, making rational decisions and taking effective actions!
Acknowledge that everything is, in fact, up in the air. This is important! You are facing many unknowns, for yourself as well as for your parents. Just acknowledge that this is the reality (that doesn’t mean you have to like it!), and that there are no definitive answers yet. Be willing to wait in that space of the unknown a little longer and not resist it or fight it. Tell yourself, “When the information becomes available, things will be clearer and I will be able to handle the decisions and actions that best serve me and those I care for.”
Make no assumptions. Assumptions are no more than soap operas in your head, and we all know that soap operas are designed for ongoing, intense drama. Know that fear breeds assumptions, and our assumptions are rarely, if ever, positive. They tend to build upon each other, keeping you in a cycle of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Don’t do that to yourself! BREATHE…and change your focus to another topic entirely. (Yes, this is easier said than done, and it requires practice…and patience with yourself as you embrace new coping strategies….)
Limit your exposure to news and social media reports. We are being bombarded with a 24/7 news and media cycle, dissecting and analyzing all the minutiae but providing no clear answers for any one person – just provoking a lot of fear, anger, and drama! Do the crossword, walk the dog, or maybe call a friend and ask about something they’re happy or excited about in their life.
Focus on the present moment. In order to get out of fear, overwhelm and worry, focus on today, this moment, right now. Acknowledge what is currently working well in your life. Make note of the all positive assets you and/or your parents have that are not related to health insurance. This is solid and tangible. Acknowledge how, with whatever changes and uncertainties you’ve faced in the past, including with regard to health insurance, you have coped, managed and even thrived. Trust that you will continue to do so.
Feel grateful now. Gratitude helps overcome fear and doubt. Know what you are grateful for. Give yourself full credit for creating the life you have now. After all, you are reading this on a computer or other electronic device, probably yours, most likely in your home or office or somewhere else safe and sound – you are a fortunate and capable adult human being! That alone demonstrates that you have the ability to succeed in dealing with all sorts of adversity! This awareness will help to rebuild your self-confidence in your ability to cope with whatever comes in the future.
What is your desired outcome? Focus on what you want and need, and then speak up, speak out, and take a step forward. One of the best ways to step out of fear, doubt and uncertainty is to take positive action in the direction of your choice. This may mean writing a letter to your representatives and senators, writing a letter to the editor, joining an advocacy group, or joining a support group. When you know what you want, you have focus and direction, and then you can communicate clearly and directly to advocate for your desired outcomes. Consciously connect with your motivation to make your opinions and concerns heard and ask for what you want, by taking positive action!
For further support, guidance and encouragement, consider joining my Take Back Your Life caregiver empowerment group. You can learn more about it here: www.LorengelbergGoff.com/tbyl-group
…And we breathe…