How to Stop Worrying About the Economy

by heather

CNN reports that 8 out of every 10 Americans are stressed about the economy. And it’s no wonder: the DOW is going up and down like some kind of sick roller-coaster ride, and most of us are seeing our IRAs and 401(k)s shrink like a wool sweater in the dryer.

In a sea of bad economic news, it can feel like the sky is falling and that we’re falling right along with it. But, it’s important to keep things in perspective here. Yes, many of us are earning less money. Yes, many of us are afraid for our jobs, or losing our homes.

But, keeping our worry close to our hearts and obsessively going over and over and over the bad news doesn’t do anything but make us feel worse. And that can come out in the form of sleeplessness, irritability, headaches, overeating, chest pains, depression, muscular tension, and anger issues.

So, what can you do about it? Here are some suggestions:

1. Make a Plan

You know how you feel better when you write things down? Well, putting down a concrete plan can really help alleviate your stress about the economy.

First of all, identify what you’re really afraid of. Is it losing your job? Losing your house? Not being able to buy food? All of the above?

Then, imagine that those situations have already happened. What would you do? Who could you call on for help if you needed it? Where could you go if you lost your home?

Most people would cut out all their discretionary spending. Things like the gym membership, the premium cable, and the magazine subscriptions would all go first thing.

Well, think about this: would you feel better by cutting all those things out now? Some people would say yes. It’s a good way to trim expenses and save money. On the other hand, if you’re stressed these “extras” can be a good way to relax. So, you’ll have to examine your situation and decide what’s best for you. But remember, you do have options.

I know it’s troubling to think of these things, but if you address them now you’ll feel better. Why? Because you’ll be formulating a plan.

As you brainstorm, make sure you write everything down so you don’t forget later on.

2. Turn Off the TV

Flick on the news and you’ll see the same things: “Financial Meltdown”, “Global Crisis”, “Fear Spreading”.

Well, who wouldn’t freak out by seeing all of that?

If you’re seriously stressing, then keep that negativity out of your life by unplugging the TV. I mean, do you ever feel better or more prepared after watching the news?

Most people don’t (myself included). They feel even more afraid, even more stressed out.

Yes it’s good to know what’s going on in the world, but not if it’s negatively impacting your life.

Try this: pick one day not to watch network TV after you get home from work. Instead, do something that makes you happy. Play with your kids, read a book, go for a walk, or watch a cheerful movie. Change your routine a bit and see how you feel that night or the next morning.

Chances are, you’ll probably feel better than you do on the nights where you stay up watching the doom and gloom news. If you do, why not do it more often?

3. Schedule Your Worries

This great tip came from Real Simple Magazine. They suggest that if you really can’t stop worrying about something, then schedule a block of time to devote just for worrying.

Sounds crazy, right? But they’re serious. Their argument is if you know that you’ll be able to sit down at 3:00 and do nothing else but worry for half hour, then you won’t have to worry about it right now. Why? Because you know you’ve got that worry time coming up. You can let it go until later.

And the surprising thing is once we give ourself free reign to really worry about something with no holds barred, then the thing we’re worrying about eventually has less power over us.

It’s like telling our kids, “Go on! Have a tantrum! See if I care!”

And every parent knows that, more often than not, when you turn your back and walk away, the tantrum dies down or stops all together.

Our worrying is kind of like that. Giving your worry free reign for a set block of time says, “Go ahead! Worry away!”

And then, it just doesn’t seem that big a deal after awhile.

4. Talk It Out

Sometimes we can feel like an island, especially when we’re worried or scared. But there are always people that can support and help us when we need it.

You can alleviate some of your stress by talking about what you’re most afraid of. Gather a group of friends together, call your parents, or have a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse. Often, getting it off your chest and bouncing ideas around can allow you to look at the situation with more objectivity.

And, your “listening ears” might have some really great suggestions on how you can prepare or cope with the situations. But, you’ll never know if you keep things to yourself. Plus, chances are pretty high that whoever you talk to is worried about many of the same things you are. You can help each other just by opening up.

5. Treat Yourself

Everyone has something that makes them feel like a kid on Christmas morning. And I’m not talking about big things here; I’m talking about those little indulgences that make your heart soar and your toes curl with gladness.

For instance, it could be a steaming hot bath, an ice-cold beer, an afternoon looking for treasure at the Salvation Army, or a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms. Whatever it is, don’t forget to give yourself some indulgences now and then. Keeping your costs trimmed is one thing; keeping yourself sane is something else.

Those little treats are what help make your life good. No matter what you’re worrying about, try to give yourself time to relax and enjoy some of the things that make you happy.

This will pass. It always does.

6. Wordle Yourself Into Happiness

Do you know what you have to be grateful for in your life?

Yes, I know things might be bad. But what do you have that’s good?

Is it your wife or husband? Your kids? Your dog? Maybe it’s your cozy bed, or the hot cup of soup you had on a cold night.

Remembering what you have to be grateful for is a great way to shift your thinking. But, all of us know that it can be easy to get swept away in a tide of gloom and doom.

Which is why I love www.wordle.net

Wordle is a program that creates beautiful word clouds using words you come up with. My suggestion? Make a list of everything in your life that you’re truly grateful for. Plug them into Wordle and create a beautiful design using those words. You can change the colors, the fonts, and the layout to create a wide variety of different looks. Then, save it as a screen saver or print it out. Keep it in a place where you’ll see it every day. This will remind you what you’ve got going for you.

Just a hint: the site can be a bit slow at times, so if you go be patient. But, word clouds are really fun to create and definitely worth the time. Also, kids love playing with Wordle, so this can be a fun way to get them playing with words.

All of us are going to have to face challenges in the future. But worrying for the sake of worrying doesn’t do anyone any good. Have a plan, and take action, but don’t wallow.

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