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Managing Fear in a Down Economy

Managing Fear in a Down Economy

Don't let fear take hold.

April 08, 2009

#3 Stay connected.

Most likely, you list your family and friends at the top of your priority list. Show them that you care by calling and catching up. Reconnect with old friends you’ve lost touch with – build your network. This has a two-fold benefit: one, you’re increasing your positive interactions and improving your life’s quality with these connections. Two, in the case you (heaven forbid) are laid off, the network you build could be instrumental in finding your next job. Try starting a game night on a weekly basis, where everyone brings their old board games and you can rotate hosts.

#4 Laugh.

Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. It also increases the level of health-enhancing hormones like endorphins, and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress. Get on the phone with your funniest friend and take care of #3 and #4 all at once! Better yet, take a walk with your funniest friend! If you’re really feeling down, fake it. Studies have proven again and again that even a fake smile or laugh provides the benefits above.

#5 Get it all out.

If you are scared, depressed, anxious or worried, create a “worry journal.” Decorate it all in black, glue doomsday images all over it, then write down everything you’re thinking and feeling, even if it’s totally ridiculous – then leave it alone for a day or so, to then come back to it with new thoughts and plans of action. Here’s an excerpt from my “worry journal”: My company had to cut all of its 401k matching contributions, we had to lay off all our temporary workers, and the economy is getting worse. I’m terrified my husband will leave me. I’m so scared that next week I’ll end up homeless and dirty and eating cockroaches like Anthony Zimmern on the Travel Channel except I won’t like it like he does. When I came back to these thoughts, I realized that I had to accept the fact that I was being affected by the company overall, although my division was doing well. When I thought deeper, it occurred to me that these cuts were actually preventing layoffs that could have been my coworkers or me. Then, I laughed at myself for quoting a Travel Channel show, and resolved to watch less TV and get outside for a walk.

Writing is a powerful (and again, FREE) tool at your disposal. Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, and it can help you learn about yourself. It can also help you figure out solutions to problems you hadn’t thought of before. Journaling has been shown to improve your brain functions and reduce stress, thereby strengthening the immune system. Writing targets the more emotional aspects of fear and stress.

Remember, this moment in time is not going to last forever. Won’t you be glad a few years down the road that you took care of yourself and didn’t let the silly media fear mongers get to you? And with all that walking, you’ll be looking better than ever!

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