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 http://www.fox4kc.com/lifestyle/health/sns-health-emotional-stimulus-plan,0,3772922.story?page=3
© Copyright 2009 by Jolyn Wells-Moran, PhD, MSW, therapist in Seattle, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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