By Judi Light Hopson
Tribune News Service
Do you have a crushing problem looming over you? Maybe your finances are crumbling. You’re terrified.
Or, maybe you or one of your family members has a critical health problem. You’ve got to do something.
Facing enormous stress in manageable steps is the key. Giant steps won’t work.
Saying “I can do this” or “I will find solutions” will trigger your problem-solving skills. You’ll need believable, achievable plans that will yield results.
To tackle the giant issues in front of you, stay organized. For example, it can be tempting to worry randomly, pondering what to do while you’re driving. This can be dangerous, and we all know this never works.
Here are some tips for cooling stress and whipping major problems into shape:
— Write everything down in a computer file or hard copy notebook. Documenting everything will help you organize a plan and hold yourself accountable.
— Pretend you’re gathering solutions for someone else. This helps you stay more objective.
— Face the worst scenario that might happen. In other words, don’t downplay the potential catastrophe you are facing. Instead, size it up and figure out exactly what to do.
“I figured out that I needed to take the lead in our family problems,” says a long haul truck driver we’ll call Ron. “My brother, his wife, and their kids recently got evicted from their rental home. He’d lost his job, and he called to ask, ‘Can we move in with you?'”
While his brother packed up the family and rented a U-Haul to transport their possessions, Ron got busy figuring things out.
“I had two choices,” says Ron. “I could jump in and fix the crisis or worry myself into a quick heart attack.”
Ron did three things. First, he rented a storage building for his brother’s family possessions. Next, he turned his den into a camp-out spot that would work temporarily.
But thirdly, Ron and his wife decided they’d turn their attached two-car garage into a cute “apartment.” It took them one month, with the help of several family members.
“Our house isn’t that big, but our garage space is,” says Ron. “With paint for the walls, a sliding door system to replace a roll-up door, and some cozy furnishings and a TV, we did the makeover for $3,000. My young niece and two nephews are sleeping in my kids’ rooms with them, but they have privacy with their own family to watch TV or just hang out or do school work.”
A business owner we’ll call Jack says two of his family members have major illnesses. These relatives lost their jobs and health insurance a year ago. They were losing their homes as well.
“I could see myself losing my home, business, and everything I’ve worked for,” says Jack. “But, I couldn’t let my loved ones fall into a crisis and not help.”
Jack was pleased that administrators at his county health department wanted to help. So did a couple of social workers who knew where to find resources, such as free medical checkups, medications, and a support group of doctors offering free guidance.
They walked Jack through the process of also finding affordable housing for his relatives, plus other resources.
“Don’t get overwhelmed and fail to keep pushing when things look bleak,” says Jack. “You can find employment, housing, food, or whatever you need. This country has amazing people to help, if you reach out to them. Never try to do it alone. That will kill you.”
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