As talk of falling housing prices, rising consumer debt
and declining retail sales bring up worries about the
nation's economic health, more Americans feel
additional stress and anxiety about their financial
Money is often on the minds of most Americans. In
fact, money and work are two of the top sources of
stress for almost 75 percent of Americans, according
to the American Psychological Association's 2007
Stress in America survey. Add to the mix headlines
declaring a looming economic recession, and many
begin to fear how they can handle any further financial
But, like most of our everyday stress, this extra tension
can be managed. Psychologists first recommend
taking pause and not panicking. While there are some
unknown effects in every economic downturn, our
nation has experienced recessions before. There are
also healthy strategies available for managing stress
during tough economic times.
Managing Your Stress in Tough Economic Times
The American Psychological Association offers these
tips to help deal with your stress about money and the
Pause but don't panic.
There are many
stories in newspapers and on television about the
state of the economy. Pay attention to what's
happening around you, but refrain from getting caught
up in doom-and-gloom hype, which can lead to high
levels of anxiety and bad decision making. Avoid the
tendency to overreact or to become passive. Remain
calm and stay focused.
Identify your financial stressors and make a
Take stock of your particular financial situation and
what causes you stress. Write down specific
and your family can reduce expenses or manage your
finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific
plan and review it regularly. Although this can be
anxiety-provoking in the short term, putting things
down on paper and committing to a plan can reduce
stress. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying
on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank,
utilities or credit card company.
Recognize how you deal with stress related to
In tough economic times some people are more likely
to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like
smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. The
strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments
between partners. Be alert to these behaviors-if they
are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a
psychologist or community mental health clinic before
the problem gets worse.
Turn these challenging times into opportunities for
real growth and change.
Times like this,
can offer opportunities to take stock of your current
situation and make needed changes. Think of ways
that these economic challenges can motivate you to
find healthier ways to deal with stress. Try taking a
walk-it's an inexpensive way to get good exercise.
Having dinner at home with your family may not only
save you money, but help bring you closer together.
Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through
your employer or look into low-cost resources in your
community that can lead to a better job. The key is to
use this time to think outside the box and try new ways
of managing your life.
Ask for professional support.
services and financial planners are available to help
you take control over your money situation. If you
continue to be overwhelmed by the stress, you may
want to talk with a psychologist who can help you
address the emotions behind your financial worries,
manage stress, and change unhealthy
This tip sheet was made possible with help from APA
member Nancy Molitor, PhD.
For more information visit the
resources section of our website.