stress reactions to the recession now, especially if you feel very stressed and have for days on end. That is the basic advice of an article in the Chicago Tribune by reporter, Barbara Mahany...." /> stress reactions to the recession now, especially if you feel very stressed and have for days on end. That is the basic advice of an article in the Chicago Tribune by reporter, Barbara Mahany...." />

Recession Stress: What Can You Do About It?

Address your stress reactions to the recession now, especially if you feel very stressed and have for days on end. That is the basic advice of an article in the Chicago Tribune by reporter, Barbara Mahany. Psychotherapy and medications can help, but initially recognizing stress reactions is critical.

Mahany interviewed a neuroscientist, a clinical psychologist, a clinical social worker, a rabbi-psychotherapist, and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences concerning the science of and antidotes for recession stress. She also interviewed a corporate communications executive and a scriptwriter/corporate freelance writer. They provided further information on how stress is effecting some people and how to successfully cope with it.

Neuroscience tells us that prolonged stress can cause changes in the brain and especially effect the cardiovascular and immune systems. It also tells us that the plasticity of the brain allows for some measure of stress. Findings in the field show that there are ways we can become resilient, even under great stress. Taking care of yourself and enjoying your social network are general pieces of advice, but there is further depth to these easy-sounding maxims too.

Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are not just casual recommendations, especially when one is under stress. Stress results from something that has already happened, such as a lay-off or loss of a home, anticipation or uncertainty about a personal loss, or  your concern for the effects of the economic crisis on the broader population. No matter the source, stress can be damaging to mental and physical health.

Recognizing the stress you feel and its lack of helpfulness to anything or anyone, no matter where it comes from, are the first steps in fighting it. The mental health professionals interviewed said that anxiety, depression, and shame are big contributors to recession stress. The article provides several symptoms of stress to look for. It also addresses how to adapt thought and behavior patterns to new circumstances using creativity and flexibility. In addition to self-care and social support, these two qualities can help you avoid potentially serious mental and physical issues.

Finding healthy distractions, setting aside specific time to deal with worries, and developing a positive mantra are just a few ways to deal with anxiety. The article also recommends getting back to self-care basics and taking up aerobic types of exercise to ease depression symptoms. Practicing problem-solving and participating in esteem-building activities are some of the suggested alternatives to shame. Mahany and the experts she spoke with suggested taking a temporary job below your skill level, discovering what you are most in need of or interested in, and listening to ideas about new possibilities to improve one’s flexibility. Creativity can work for you if you like to use your imagination to shape a new life for yourself, enjoy simpler pleasures, and use humor to enhance your daily life.

If you feel stuck in recession stress, or in danger of it, seek out a good psychotherapist, counselor or life coach. Help from a professional can help you come up with a plan to put stress in its place by further managing it. Working with a professional also provides means of  increasing your resiliency and sticking to an established plan. If medication is needed, you might also find that helpful.


Mahany, B. Your emotional stimulus plan: If economic worries leave you anxious or depressed, you have the power to build a strong reserve of coping skills, Chicago Tribune. February 20, 2009, online source at,0,3772922.story?page=3

© Copyright 2009 by Jolyn Wells-Moran, PhD, MSW. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Joanna

    February 23rd, 2009 at 1:05 AM

    How does 1 pay for a professional life coach when providing food on the table is in question. America and the world is looking for a twig of hope. In times like this the only thing that counts is the relationship quotient we all have with our families, friends and society. Days to encash the PR cheque!!! Its difficult to smile and go fishing when there’s no money at all.

  • Nicole

    February 23rd, 2009 at 2:46 AM

    It is awfully hard to deal with recession stress when you have already lost your job and may be in danger of losing even more such as your house. This whole economic situation has helped me reaffirm my faith though. In some strange way I have made my peace with the fact that ultimately I am not in control of the multitudes of bad things that are happening all around me and that I have to turn it over to a Higher Power, for He alone knows what is best. If it sounds like I have also been through the 12 steps before you are right. And all of this has worked together in a very positive way to help me to deal with a lot of the current stress that I am now facing. And the serenity prayer continues to help me through every single day.

  • Pauline

    February 24th, 2009 at 8:33 AM

    Ignoring the streeors only makes things worse. Face them head on and deal with them before they get too out of control.

  • Alex

    February 24th, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    I lost my job as a stock broker. I was doing yoga for the last 2 years. I am now a yoga teacher for kids in a neighbourhood school. It pays me quarter of what I used to learn. We have down sized everything. Our car, our food and just about everything including activities. We dont have parties anymore but we picnic instead. We dont have gym and club memberships anymore but we garden, trek and of course do yoga and other kinds of stuff. Definitely digging into your first line of support like family and close friends helps so much.

  • Leon

    February 25th, 2009 at 7:43 PM

    I agree that facing your worst nightmares head on works. I was losing my job and had no hope of getting another one. Telling people and your family atleast makes it easier to cope emotionally and financially. My church mates and our siblings saw us through 2 months of no pay and a friend of mine helped me get 2 jobs that pay the same as my last job. I am glad things have worked out. I dont look at the distant future but am happy with my today

  • Lionel

    February 28th, 2009 at 5:52 AM

    I did just this. I lost my job and couldnt find a similar one for a while. I went to a neighbourhood self help counselling session for about a week and within 2 weeks I got myself 2 jobs and guess what, it pays 25% more than my previous one and I work much less.

  • Nancy

    March 13th, 2009 at 3:15 AM

    I think no matter how much we try to ignore it, we eventually face the stress and learn to deal with it the best we can. It seems like everyone is having to downsize, do with a little less, and buy the off brand foods, just make ends meet. I know I have tried to limit as much as possible and I guess I am fortunate enough to still have a job, although nothing is set in stone.

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