Economic Depression: How Are You Coping?

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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Reluctant policymakers and government officials, are finally acknowledging the fact that the United States has entered into a period of economic depression. Although its effects have been felt throughout the country for some time, monthly jobless rate figures, home foreclosures and business failures have escalated to the point where it is impossible to deny that we are in the midst of a financial catastrophe. The question which cannot be answered at this point is, how long will it last, and how deeply will it affect each and every citizen of this country. With every passing month, the problem has more far-reaching global effects as well, making it difficult to cope with the daily bombardment of bad news.

Within our own families, stress is building, regarding employment, income, education and health. Virtually every aspect of everyday life is affected. Vacations become impossible to contemplate, dining out, entertainment and extra-curricular activity budgets are cut. With all attention being focused upon the basics of making ends meet and sustaining a family, how is one to relieve stress?

The build-up of stress and the inability to release it, is a common complaint under the current economic conditions. Some people react to stress in a passive way, becoming sedentary and less likely to engage in activities that make them happy. Are you feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities and less able to cope with an ever-increasing anxiety about the future?

Don't let go of the simple pleasures that make you feel good. Coping with stress requires first, that you recognize its prominence in your life. Second you must come up with ways to release and relax.

Music is a great relaxant. It soothes, calms, and steers the mind away from anxious thoughts.

Walk more. Don't allow yourself to become sedentary. Engage in your favorite outdoor or indoor activity, and allow your body to naturally produce endorphins, which engender a feeling of well-being.

Do not combat stress with increased food intake. Overeating, indulging in foods containing a lot of fat and sugars, might make you feel comforted for a moment, but the overall result of weight gain and the consumption of calories devoid of nutrients, will ultimately affect your health in a negative way.

Likewise, increased alcohol consumption is not a good thing. Although it might mask the overall problems, the use of alcohol and other drugs when depressed and anxious, can lead to long-term addictions.

Many people tend to smoke more tobacco or take up smoking when stressed, but as we all know, this habit can have disastrous health consequences.

Take stock of your current level of economic stress. Decide to do two things daily that will take your mind off all problems. Fifteen minutes of play with your child, shooting hoops with friends in the park, meeting someone for coffee and a chat or preparing a healthy meal for someone you love, are all very doable things that can help let off steam. Make yourself a list of enjoyable stress-relieving activities.

This is a time for reaching out to family and friends, and for coming up with creative ways to cope with a new economic reality.

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