Recession-Proof Your Emotional Bank Account….Three Steps To a Healthy Internal Economy

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The “Great Recession” may be officially behind us, but for many of us in the US and around the world, times are still tough.  In the media, at social gatherings, and around the dinner table, talk of the economy is omnipresent.  The weather here in Central Florida is hot and steamy, but the financial forecast remains distinctly chilly.  Everyone from pundits to pastors is offering advice on how to survive the economic deep freeze.  But what about the emotional costs?  How do you insulate yourself in this climate of fear and uncertainty?

 

Well, to paraphrase a slogan from another turbulent time, I recommend the following formula: Tune In, Turn Off, Time-Out. 

 

Tune In means paying attention to the people and things in your life for which you are grateful.  Our brains are wired to notice and remember scary and unpleasant things so we can avoid them for survival.  Unfortunately, this means we might overlook the majority of our experiences that are pleasant, rewarding, and fulfilling.  By taking time to notice and savor the positives in our lives, we enhance our overall sense of well-being.  Try keeping a “gratitude journal” in which you note down 3-5 positives each evening.  Express your thanks to someone who has enriched your day. Or, simply take a moment to be fully present and aware during a beautiful sunset, a great meal, or a moment of laughter.

 

Turn Off is about setting healthy boundaries around media, conversation, and internal dialogues that focus on fear and worry.  By all means, stay informed and devote time to careful planning…but know that too much time spent dwelling on the worst-case scenario can have detrimental effects in the here and now.  Possible outcomes include increased anxiety, depression, blood pressure, relationship conflict, muscle tension, and addictions issues.  So give the remote a rest, pick up a book, or start a conversation about things that inspire you.

 

Time-Out centers on creating space in your mind, calendar, and budget for proactive planning, connection with others, and self-nurturing.  As responsible adults, we can over-focus on soldiering through when hard times hit.  That approach works well for short-term crises, but can leave us burned-out and depleted over the long haul.  You’re depending on your body and mind to get you through these tough times, so make sure to treat them with extra care and kindness. Pampering and play are not simply luxuries – they’re part of what makes life worth living.  Get creative about ways to have fun and feel good.  Your next date can be a picnic and a walk around Lake Eola.  Game night is a great way to enjoy family and friends without breaking the bank.  And yes, the occasional trip to the salon can give you the boost you need to stay relaxed, confident and competitive.

 

As a therapist, I believe we can create internal peace and fulfillment despite difficult circumstances. I hope these tips will help you keep your passion for life burning bright and hot…until the economy thaws!

Article by Claire Mauer