Tips to cope with financial stress

I like success stories. Optimism can carry you over some pretty high hurdles. It pays to have a bit of a positive outlook in this economy as well. Countless Atlantans have been down, but certainly not out in this period of financial challenge.

Admittedly, keeping your head up isn’t always easy. It explains why clinical psychologist, Dr. Paula Bloom, addresses emotional and mental issues surrounding money several times a week during her practice. Bloom, an Atlanta resident and frequent contributor to CNN Espanol, says difficult times present opportunities to “recalibrate” and press “control-alt-delete” on the things that are out of your control.

The recession is real and coursing deep through the heart of the Atlanta economy.

In an interview this morning, Bloom provided these tips to cope in the midst of stress, job loss and financial struggles:

Separate yourself from negativity

“Limit your exposure to a lot of negative things. Just as Swine Flu is contagious, freaking out about the economy is contagious. It’s important to have a more long-term look at things. Resist the temptation to be sucked into all of the drama.”

Remember what means most to you

“Clarify for yourself what your values are. Ask yourself what are your top three values, and then think about the three things you’re focusing most on. A lot of times it’s not those values.”

You do have power

“There is the feeling of powerlessness that is prevalent. As a result, people are doing things like drinking, eating poorly, spending too much money, doing drugs…You do things that are destructive. You have to take care of yourself. There are things you have control of, like making sure you’re sleeping enough, exercising, eating properly and spending time with other people.”

Bloom encouraged readers to hold on to this point: “Yes, it is stressful. But ask how useful it is to stay in the problem. It is more useful to stay in the solution.”

My question: Has the economy left you stressed? If so, how have you coped throughout the recession? How do you counter stress?

Have a story idea? Email rcash@ajc.com

5 comments Add your comment

Maggie's Dad

July 26th, 2009
3:04 pm

It is very easy to get caught up in all the drama about the economy, health care, michael jackson’s death, etc. I am amazed at the number of ‘news’ stories about these and all the hot topics of the day. I do read a lot of news online and frequently I have to check myself as I sort thru all the drama. The one critical thing I remind myself multiple times each day is…don’t let it get to you, keep all the daily drama at least at a arms length.

Years ago I sat down with myself and had a long talk about my life. I relized then that if I wanted to live to be older I needed to make some serious changes in my life. I had to let go of many things that was bringing stress into my life. It took weeks, and even months to begin to see changes in my daily life. If I cannot control it then I let it go. That one thing will make the most difference if you are dealing with stress. It took me the better part of two years to truly bring the change I wanted for myself.

I threw away all the medications I was taking for depression, blood pressure, etc. and did not take a pill for one year. But I did wait to do this until I had gotten better control of the stress in my life. After three years I did go back to taking my blood pressure pill since high blood pressure and heart problems run in my family. But I feel great today. I still have to remind myself sometimes to keep to my pledge…’to keep stress out of my life’ but I assure you that you can do it, because I did it. Happy destressing…john

City Girl

July 26th, 2009
3:29 pm

Tips for reducing stress? Get a job; live well below your means; select your own health insurance without outside influences.

KC

July 26th, 2009
5:22 pm

Amen, Maggie’s Dad, well said. Congratulations on getting rid of the pills in your life, except for what’s necessary.

Personally, I am now struggling with all of this, and have made the difficult decision to quit my job. To everyone who is looking for a job, this may seem crazy or stupid. but this is what will lower my stress, help me live a longer life and have a better relationship with my family and friends. (@City Girl, getting a job isn’t the answer to everything and we already live well below our means which is how I can quit my job. Your comments are naive and part of the reason why I’m starting to avoid websites with user comments.) Stress was/is taking over my life and giving me panic attacks and other physical problems to the point where I know my health is going downhill (and I am under 40, much too young to feel this way).

Fortunately I’m blessed where my spouse has a good job that can support our family and we have enough saved where we should be fine. I still worry because if I do need to go back to work someday (things happen), it will be more difficult to get back into the workforce. But I am starting to push those fears aside as I know that I’m making the right decision.

When I’m at home, I will be able to go through our house and eliminate what is not needed, cook healthier, cheaper meals, spend more time with my family, and finally getting rid of the negative in my life. This includes reading more, learning new things and avoiding negative people and websites, which seem to be ubiquitous these days. I’m tired of everyone thinking they know it all and thinking that rude, anonymous comments putting others down are helpful to anyone. While I don’t think that everyone needs to agree, why do some feel the need to insult others? So, if anyone knows websites that either don’t have commentary or are better monitored or have more respectful, useful comments, please post them.

Good luck to all in whatever they decide is best for themselves, and I hope you find some support and good ideas here.

MikenAtlanta

July 26th, 2009
6:14 pm

Maggie’s Dad? Thanx for the reminder.
Went to publix to do the usual and decided to have my blood preasure check.
First time was something like 147/103>> and no! pulse:)
Chilled for a few minutes,came back down to 137/90 and a pulse that was still in the 80’s.
I have some work to do,obviously> But! You gave me a very well thought out reminder and I am
greatful for that. I wish You and your’s the Best Mike:) >>

[...] My mother used to use this phrase all the time: “That’s just robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Now, I wasn’t exactly sure where it came from, but I knew what she meant. If you find yourself always a little short, pulling money from one pot to put in another — and not having enough in either — you know the strain of financial stress. [...]