Stressed over open enrollment? Try these tips

(BPT) – It’s that time of year again — employers around the country are opening their benefits enrollment window, a defined period during which employees can assess and select benefits packages. For many, this will be a period of avoidance and stress, before the ultimate last-minute race to select options that seem to have the least impact on their paycheck.

Let’s face it, the process of reviewing and evaluating workplace benefits can be confusing and stressful. Considering your benefit options for unexpected life moments means having to anticipate situations most people don’t want to imagine. It can also be overwhelming to sort through the financial details and choices while trying to figure out what benefits would actually be worth the cost.

And yet taking the opportunity to assess and ensure their benefits package supports their current needs can significantly impact most people. Prudential Financial’s recent survey of over 2,000 employed adults found that out of the 65% of people who selected new benefits last year, 79% experienced reduced financial stress year-round as a result.

Financial therapist and Prudential’s financial wellness advocate Amanda Clayman recommends tackling these sometimes difficult topics head on. “Understanding the emotions triggered by financial decisions can help alleviate your financial stress,” she explains.

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Clayman offers the following tips not only to help make the open enrollment period less stressful for employees, but to turn it into an opportunity to give yourself more peace of mind about your financial situation and instill confidence in your decisions.

1. Schedule a money date with yourself

Spend some time with your financial statements before open enrollment to understand your situation better. Get to know your personal money style, such as what you value, your goals and how you cope with financial difficulty. Reducing unknowns and being more aware of your situation can help instill financial confidence. Becoming more self-aware about the money in your life, and how it aligns with your values, helps to reveal a path forward for selecting the best workplace benefits for you and your family.

2. Take time to understand the nuances

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Envision a positive outcome. See the open enrollment period as an opportunity to improve your overall financial picture. Take time to breathe, focus and re-evaluate your options without getting too stressed. The Prudential survey found that 35% of people chose the same benefits as the previous year, but 65% of them chose new benefit options — which they credited to becoming more informed. Making the effort to be more informed about all of your options not only improves your situation, but also helps reduce your stress around finances.

3. Don’t get distracted by over-communication

When it came to receiving information about enrollment options, 45% of the people surveyed reported receiving more than enough information, which can feel overwhelming. Don’t let the glut of information throw you off course. Just break down the options one section at a time, starting with your most immediate needs. Ask your employer questions if you need help understanding your options.

4. Consider the big picture

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Most people will opt in for health insurance, but will skip taking advantage of potentially beneficial additional coverage options. Survey results revealed 46% of employees don’t believe they are taking full advantage of all benefits offered. Make sure to review all of the tools your employer provides to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your workplace options. Considering all health and financial benefits, including voluntary supplemental health insurance products (critical illness, accident and hospital indemnity insurance) and disability insurance products can, depending on your unique situation, actually have a positive effect on your overall health and stress levels.

Deciphering your employer’s benefit offerings may be tedious, but taking the time — and preferably not minutes before the deadline — to fully dive in and understand your options can eliminate future stress and regret. Selecting a flexible benefits plan that can protect you from potential future curveballs will provide a stable foundation for your overall financial wellness, giving you more peace of mind throughout the year.

To learn more about how to take advantage of your benefits this open enrollment season, visit