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Dealing With Market Stress
These are very stressful times for most Americans. You almost certainly are worried about the markets and your investments. You might be wondering how you are going to send your kids to college or whether you will be able to retire when and how you planned. You might even be concerned about whether you or someone you love will be able to keep your job or your home.
The bottom line is, you probably are feeling unsettled and stressed. And all that stress is not good for you. It can cause or contribute to a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. So what can you do?
Experts suggest several ways for coping with difficult times, including:
Recognize what you can do something about, and what you can’t. There probably is little you can do to change the direction of the stock market and, although you can change your investments, you want to avoid a knee-jerk reaction that could end up costing you money down the road. But there are things you can do. For example, should you trim your spending? Delay a major purchase? Update your resume? Doing something about the things you can control might make you feel less stressful about the things you can’t.
Get your heart rate up the right way. Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and do something to improve your health in the bargain. You can take a walk, go to the gym, ride the bike, or whatever you want to do to get your heart beating and your blood pumping and let your body release some of the worry.
Get your heart rate down. Meditation or deep breathing can help slow your heart rate, cleanse your mind and bring you calm. Sit in a quiet room. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on the breath going into and out of your body. Relax your body, from the top of your head to your toes. Even a couple minutes can help you fend off panic.
Don’t self-medicate with drugs, alcohol or caffeine. Caffeine can increase your stress levels by increasing your heart rate. And drugs and alcohol are counter-productive if your goal is to take control of your life.
Help other people. It’s good to remember that you are not alone in this difficulty. There are lots of people who are worried, and there are many people who are in a worse position than you are. You can help yourself by reaching out to connect with and help other people.
Look on the bright side. Think about all the good things in your life, and how those things will still be there when the economy gets back on track
Seek help if you need it. There are very tough times, and many people are finding that they can’t manage their stress on their own. If you are having trouble coping, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.