According to a 2008 Stress in America survey, done by the American Psychological Association, 8 out of 10 Americans reported that the economy is a significant cause of stress. As our nation is entrenched in another economic crisis, we need to ask ourselves if we’re emotionally prepared to deal with what’s ahead. No matter the profession or income level, we will all be facing insecurities about the future and with it, an increased level of stress in our lives.
The Iowa Youth and Families Project, A long-term study measuring the effects of the farm crisis of the 1980s, showed that when families faced severe economic difficulties, they experience a downward spiral. As we lose our jobs or face severe pay cuts, we become unable to pay bills and have to adjust our budgets. As these stressors pile up, so does our emotional distress, which can take the form of depression, anxiety, irritability, anger and isolation.
We may withdraw from our children, snap at our partners, and stop reaching out to friends and family members. The home environment may suddenly become chaotic, which can affect the children’s emotional well-being. Other studies have shown that kids may not be bothered much by not having a lot of stuff, but more negatively impacted by their parent’s anger and irritability.
So how do we cope without dragging our kids and families down the spiral? Perhaps one thing to remember is that job loss and financial difficulty is only for this moment. We do not need to project into the future about what that means, or define ourselves by these measures. Having a positive outlook can impact our thoughts, which in turn affect our moods.
Self-care becomes extremely important during stressful times. From a depth psychology view, our bodies have wisdom. Symptoms and diseases are generally signals that we are out of balance. Here are some suggestions that have been useful for me that don’t cost money:
• Deep breathing
• Yoga and stretching
• Being in nature
• Hot baths
• Talking to a friend
There are many other ways we can support ourselves through hard times. What are some of your suggestions?