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How to Survive the “Great Recession” - The Stress Bailout Plan

by Terri

Unless you’re living under a rock, in a galaxy far, far away, you are not immune to the increased levels of stress being doled out to us this year, complimentary of this economic meltdown.  You’re watching the value of your house decline, or you may now owe more money on your home than it’s worth.  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.


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