Worried About the Economy

Some people would say that if you are not worried, you simply aren’t paying attention: rising unemployment, big stock market losses, and predictions of more economic distress to come.

How to deal with this? Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) offers some guidance.

Remember, some amount of anxiety is a good thing. It can prepare you for danger and get you ready to take on what ever will come. If it motivates you to keep your resume updated, network, learn new job skills, or rebalance your investment portfolio, it just might help set the stage for a better future. And doing one or more of the above activities can help you get a sense of control, the feeling that you are in charge and not simply the victim of external forces.

Here are a few other things you can do to reduce your level of stress:

1. Learn progressive muscle relaxation or take a meditation class or a yoga class. In addition, regular aerobic exercise may well improve your mood and outlook.

2. Make a list of past life challenges that you have survived. How did you get beyond these? Remind yourself about the personal strengths you have that helped you to get through past difficulties.

3. If you tend to be a worrier, ask yourself just how often your expectations of bad events have been proven false. You might be one of those people who tend to catastrophize. Talk back to that tendency by writing down objective reasons why the “catastrophe” is actually less likely to happen than your feelings suggest.

4. Recognize that most bad events are survivable. As the old saying tells us, “life goes on.”

5. Recall that most negative events have an end point, including wars and economic down turns. Imagine how much better things will feel once the economy improves.

6. Focus on the good things in your life that haven’t changed. If you have a supportive and loving family, good friends, or decent health, you have much for which to be grateful. Also, if you live in the USA, your economic well being is still likely to be much better than most of the rest of the world.

7. If these suggestions aren’t helpful and you find that your stress level is unmanageable, consider going to a cognitive behavior therapist or obtaining anti-anxiety medication from a physician.

In the future I will write more about worry. In particular, I’ll discuss the well documented general tendency of older adults to worry less than younger people. Is this the result of wisdom accumulated over a life time, brain changes that occur during the aging process, or reduced life demands once you have accomplished the task of finding a compatible mate, made a living, and raised your children? I’ll let you know what researchers think.

4 thoughts on “Worried About the Economy

  1. Well, I am disappointed that I have made it to the beginning of your posts. I have enjoyed perusing them over the past couple of weeks, a month or two at a time as I had the time. You are both an informative and entertaining writer and you leave lots of room for thoughtful reflection. From time to time I commented but then there were the posts that maybe hit a little too close for comfort, the ones where a public comment would feel inappropriate or uncomfortable. Those, however, were the ones that left me thinking the most. I look forward to future posts.

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    • I am in your debt, JT. I can’t imagine there are too many folks who have read every last one. Thanks for your many words of praise and the thoughtfulness with which you read my essays. A writer cannot ask more!

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      • My pleasure! I enjoyed the wide range of topics and still wonder how you get all those ideas. Do you work with any kind of writing group? Some of your essays demanded a fair amount of research and must have taken some time to compose. Have you considered putting together any kind of collection for old fashioned publication? Your posts on the therapy process and profession seem to gather a lot of interest. Though I am neither therapist nor patient, they appeal to my interest in what makes people tick. I think I perviously referenced Irvin Yalom – his therapy stories are engaging and full of wisdom. You could do likewise.
        I also really appreciated the biographical sketches, both of well known and lesser known individuals. I need heroes and reading descriptions of others can be inspiriting.
        I would like to write more once my days are not filled with administrative work but I can tell you that the thing that stops me above all else is the technology aspect! Go figure! This thing that can be so useful can also be so irritating and discouraging. Just for fun, I went back to the WordPress blog that I started to play with last summer and pretty much turned away immediately. Too many tech things that I don’t have the knowledge to conquer. The younger generations have that whole thing by osmosis but I missed that boat. Maybe when my time is more my own I will have more patience too.

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      • I worked in a writing group for about six months, but, like many writing groups, not everyone wrote; or, for that matter, put in much time to think critically about the work of others. I appreciate your suggestion about compiling the essays and that might still happen, but it is not on my list of things to do. I’ve seen many people who came to grief trying to crank out their work, only to give up in the middle or, worse, to publish and watch their tome sink to a quick oblivion. While I’m grateful for the loyalty of you and others, I don’t have reason to believe the world needs one more book of essays. Put differently, I’d have to think that it would make a bigger mark than by posting them here. And, that mark would have to be important to me. Regarding technology, one of my sons-in-law set up the WordPress account and I’ve tweaked it a bit since then. Maybe there is someone among the younger generation who might do the same for you.

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