If you haven’t experienced a sudden loss of your job, you may know a few people who have either lost theirs, or are concerned that they’re about to lose it. You’ve watched your health insurance premiums, grocery bills, and general living expenses rise while your income has remained the same, or gone down. There’s no doubt about it; the current economic crisis is taking a physical and emotional toll on everyone, and the problem is not going away anytime in the near future.
Financial security, on a personal level and even on a global level, is on the minds of everyone right now. In fact, money and work are two of the top sources of stress for almost 75 percent of Americans, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2007 Stress in America survey. No doubt that percentage has gone up during 2008. Add to the mix are those unexpected expenses that always seem to happen at the worst possible time and lead you to believe that you’re at your breaking point. You can actually feel the stress — mentally, emotionally, and physically.
The degree of stress in our lives is highly dependent upon individual factors such as our financial stability, our physical health, the quality of our relationships (at home and at the office), the number of commitments and responsibilities we carry, the degree of others’ dependence upon us, the amount of support we receive from others, and the number of changes or traumatic events that have recently occurred in our lives.
Some generalizations, however, can be made. People who are poorly nourished, get inadequate sleep, or who are physically unwell have a reduced capacity to handle pressures and stresses of everyday life, let alone the increased amount of stress we’re all now dealing with during this “Great Recession.”
I can speak to this on a personal level, especially since I’m among those who get inadequate sleep, eat like a goat (whatever I can get to in 5 minutes or less), tend to skip meals, and feeling intense financial pressure as I watch my retirement savings fade away to the point where I’ll now have to work until I’m at least 93 before I can even begin to think about retiring. In fact, one of my goals right now is to retire before I die. And of course, I’ve had a few of those unexpected major expenses. Two months ago: Major home repair. Last month; the dreaded “check engine” light, which resulted in my needing to bust out my already melting credit card. Last week: my computer (which is how I earn my living) died in its sleep. Interspersed amongst these Panic Button events, I went through at least a half dozen personal / traumatic events.
Most of our everyday stress can be managed, especially if you’re getting the right nutrition, adequate rest, and are generally healthy. I have no problem handling everyday stress. It was the extra stress that was beginning to make me feel as if I was about to come unglued at any moment. There were times when I could actually feel my blood rushing through my body in order to pump enough oxygen to my brain so that I wouldn’t pass out and end up in the E.R. again. Yes, that happened to me as well.
Fortunately, there are healthy strategies available for managing stress during these tough economic times. Think of this as your “Stress Bailout Plan.”
1. Try not to panic. Remember, while there will always be some unknown effects in every bear market, our country has experienced recessions before, and we’ve moved through these recessionary cycles before.
2. Try not to fall for all the media hype. Granted, the economy is bad right now, however, mainstream media tends to sensationalize everything and anything – especially if it’s a slow news day. Instead, pay attention to what’s happening in your own community. Build a support group, or a Networking group, and refrain from getting caught up in the gloom-and-doom media hype. Act, but don’t Re-act. Stay focused on your goals.
3. Recognize how you deal with stress related to money. In tough economic times some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. Be alert to these behaviors—if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or community mental health clinic before the problem gets worse.
4. Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change. Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities to take stock of your current situation and make needed changes. Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through your employer or look into low-cost resources in your community that can lead to a better job, or even give you a little more job security.
As for my own Stress Bailout Plan, one of the things that has helped me the most are my regular visits to my Chiropractor. Not for the usual spine/neck adjustments. I happen to have a Chiro who specializes (and instructs) in a therapy called the Bio-Cranial System. The Bio Cranial System addresses a person’s dysfunctions and their cranial (and therefore spinal) status, in order to restore maximum function to your whole system. It is probably the most holistic health care system in existence, in that it looks at the total person, and not diseases or disease names.
In addition, I recently started taking a Whole Food Nutritional supplement that has left me wondering why I didn’t try this stuff MONTHS ago! I would probably have more hair left on my head and less in my vacuum cleaner! It took about two weeks before I could actually feel the difference in how my body reacted to high stress situations. Or rather, DIDN’T react. This was quite evident last week when my computer died and I was up against a deadline at work. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t get that intense feeling of panic / anxiety / nuclear emotional meltdown feeling that I had previously been experiencing during intensely stressful moments. I believe that it’s the combination of the Bio-Cranial treatments in conjunction with this particular whole food supplement that has helped me to create the best possible “Stress Bailout Plan” for my body, mind and soul!
NOTE: The Bio-Cranial System is not the same as Craniosacral – accept no substitutes.