Like a kid watching a scary movie, sorting through the daily news lately is best done with one hand covering your eyes. Whether or not you've been directly affected by the economic crisis, like having a devalued investment portfolio, facing home foreclosure, or losing a job, being surrounded by negative news can take a toll on your nerves. As Joe Nocera of The New York Times puts it, "This crisis doesn’t wear you down over time. It hits you over the head with a two-by-four. On a daily basis."
It's important to understand what you can do to help yourself when it feels like everything around you is so uncertain, but at the same time it's necessary to recognize that you don't have control over what's happening on Wall Street and beyond. Here are some ideas to keep the news from getting under your skin so much that it makes you a nervous wreck.
- Get a grip on your finances: Knowing that you're doing everything you can to protect yourself will make you feel more secure.
- Bow out of unproductive economic conversations: Keep up with the news and become knowledgeable about the world around you, but know the economy doesn't need to be the focus of every waking minute. If you're caught in the middle of a conversation involving predictions for the future and start feeling overwhelmed, it's OK to excuse yourself. The fact remains that no one can predict the future, and someone with a dooms day outlook will only make you more aware of that and more uneasy. The same thing goes for turning off the TV when the experts begin talking in circles.
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- Relinquish control by accepting the economy's ups and downs, but take control of yourself. Revisit your goals and establish a plan to accomplish them. Just because the economy seems to be falling apart doesn't mean you should give up on yourself — take whatever steps you can toward making your goals happen, even if the final result may not be realized for some time.
- Enjoy the cheaper things in life and remember that fresh air is free! Have fun doing things you might have skipped in a steadier economy, like going to the park more often, taking walks around the neighborhood, and enjoying local sightseeing.