One of the things that we can definitely say is true about being a human being is that we are constantly coming up against the surprising and unexpected. Even those of us who live the seemingly most mundane of lives will have various shocks and surprises throughout our lives, Some of those unexpected events will be very positive - surprise birthday parties much wanted pregnancies - and some will be tough to deal with - illness, job loss - and although the unpleasant surprises are a lot more difficult to deal with, it can be tough to deal with any kind of unexpected life events at all.
Why? Because humans like to feel that they have control over their own lives. They like routine and they do not want to be hit with a curveball. Of course, it happens all the time, is instead of wishing unexpected events would not enter your life, it is much healthier to learn how to deal with them as effectively as possible.
- Accept unexpected events will happen
As I said above, unexpected events are a part of every person’s life, so there is no point wasting your time wishing that was not the case. If you are able to accept the unexpected and even embrace it, then you will rail against it less when it happens. This will make it a lot easier for you to accept the surprises in life. Life changes and no one remains static, acknowledge that fact, make your peace with it, and life will become easier even when it is really hard.
- Foster a positive mental attitude
If you are a glass half empty person, then when your kid calls you to say they need help with bail bonds after getting into trouble with the cops or you find out that your spouse has been having an affair with your best friend- extreme examples, I know - you will find it very difficult not to fall apart and catastrophize the events that are unfolding before you. This will not help you to do what needs to be done and look after yourself in the process.
If, however, you are typically a positive person, you will be able to acknowledge how terrible the situation is without getting yourself into a negativity spiral that will see you catastrophize to the point where the world is going to end. It will be much healthier for you and the people you love.
How do you foster a more positive mindset? Keeping a gratitude journal is a good place to start because it enables you to look for the good things in life, no matter how big or small, and make a note of them. Once you have been doing this for a while, your brasin will naturally hone in on the positive in any situation, and your mental health will be much improved as a result.
- Always have a plan B
It’s often hardest to deal with unexpected life events when something you have meticulously planned has gone wrong for whatever reason. One thing you can do to mitigate against this is to always have a plan B. If you know that you have a backup, you are less likely to get depressed snd despondent or stress yourself out unduly when the unexpected puts a spanner n the works.
- Take a breath
When something comes out of nowhere and takes you by surprise, it can be tempting to immediately start getting upset and panicking about it, worrying about what you are going to do, but this is unlikely to be helpful in just about any scenarios you can think of.
It is a far better idea to simply stop, take a few deep breaths and let the unexpected event sink into your brain a bit, Really let it sink in and think about the ramifications for you as well as anything you may be able to do to mitigate against them, and more often than not, you’ll find that what you thought was a disaster is not an unsolvable person at all. Don’t let yourself get worked up into a state of distress when simply pausing and thinking it through is all you need to do to get a decent resoluton.
- Talk it through
When you’ve been hit by a surprise and you aren’t really sure what to do about it, one thing that can really help is to talk it through with someone you trust. This can be a spouse, friend or family member, or even a trusted therapist if you prefer. As long as they will not judge you and you know that they themself have sound judgment, just getting it out and seeing what they think could take a weight off your shoulders and maybe even help you o find a way through whatever it is that is causing you the problem.
Meditation is often given as the panacea to every problem you may have, and although it is perhaps not that amazing, it is still a very effective technique for soothing mental distress and helping you to work your way through your issues in a calm and rational way. It is also very easy to learn and as little as 10 minutes of quality meditation could be all you need to clear your head and gain some perspective on the situation. So, before you get upset, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath - you’ll be amazed at just how effective it can be.
- Think constructively
Although we can’t always help getting panicky or anxious when we’re hit with the unexpected in life, if you are able to do so, try to remind yourself that being upset will not help you get through the situation, and instead try to think constructively about the problem, The fact of the matter is, most problems have a solution and by reminding yourself that and working through all of the potential solves in your head instead of working your way through all of the bad things that could happen, you will much more quickly be able to get back to a place of calm and hopefully deal with your problems head-on.
- Learn how to live in the moment
Perhaps related to meditation, is the practice of mindfulness - learning to live in this moment and this moment only. You might think that this would not help you in the moment when an unexpected event comes into your life, but actually, it really can. If you are focusing only on what you can see, feel, hear, and do right now, you won’t be thinking about the fact that X, Y, and Z could happen X months down the line or that you don’t know how you will get through the next few hours and you will be able to remain calm and switched on throughout, It really will make life much easier for you to get through during your crisis moments.
- Be more spontaneous
This might seem like a weird thing to recommend in a post about dealing with unexpected life events, but when you think about it, if you get yourself used to shaking things up, even in a small way like walking a new route to work or trying a new coffee at the shop, then your brain will become more accustomed to expecting the unexpected and it may be less of a shock for you when it happens, Of course, tasking s new walking route isn’t going to prepare you for a major life event like the death of a loved one, but it will still train your brain to take things in its stride a bit more easily, which absolutely will not hurt.
- Treat yourself like a friend
If you’re really struggling with coming to terms with an unexpected life event, something that may be able to help you gain more perspective is trying to treat yourself like you would a good friend. Take a step back from the situation and think about what you would advise them to do and why. Take that advice yourself and you will probably find that it was the right decision to make.
- Live your best life
If you really make an effort to live the best possible life you can; a life filled with happiness, love, and joy, then although an unexpected event may rocj the foundations a little bit, it will not cause them to crumble completely. Being happy really is the best antidote to getting through difficult times, so try to have fun!
Unexpected events happen and disasters can strike without any warning at all, but that doesn’t mean that your mental health has to suffer because of it. If you put some of the above tips into action next time you’re taken by surprise, and it isn’t exactly a pleasant surprise, you should be able to get through it with a calmer, clearer head, and much less distress than might otherwise be the case.