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2009 Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

10 ways to cope with economic stress

The current economic crisis has become a persistent concern for many people. Some are able to tolerate the uncertainty of the economic climate without too much distress. For others it can affect their quality of life in many ways, including social relationships, work functioning, and enjoyment of everyday activities. Here are 10 helpful ways to deal with stress related to the economic crisis.

  1. Monitor stress – Monitor overall level of stress and notice early warning signs such as: reduced energy; sleep difficulties; muscle tension and headaches, increased time spent worrying or ruminating; irritability; getting sick more often; and/or mood fluctuations.
  1. Limit unhealthy coping – Pay attention to the increased use of unhealthy coping strategies such as greater alcohol or caffeine consumption, and limit these behaviours.
  1. Limit checking behaviours – Increased anxiety related to financial stress can lead to the desire to check your bank account, track news on financial markets, contact your financial advisor or credit counselor more often and seeking reassurance from friends and family. It is important to limit these behaviours as they typically lead to more of the same and do not provide long term relief from the anxiety.
  1. Keep a balanced perspective – Do not stress about the daily fluctuations but rather focus on the longer-term time perspective to get a “more balanced” perspective of the situation.
  1. Avoid negative thinking – Recognize “catastrophic” thinking that could include thoughts such as “I will never be able to retire” or “My children won’t be able to get a university education” and challenge it with more balanced realistic thoughts.
  1. Don’t underestimate yourself – Understand that we tend to under estimate our ability to cope with stressors and the resources and assets available to us. This is a good time to take stock of our own abilities and resources for coping.
  1. Stay positive – The current economic situation is inherently uncertain. With increased anxiety we have significant difficulty tolerating uncertainty and could tend to focus on the “worst case scenario” while overlooking other possible outcomes such as the best case scenario and the most realistic scenario.
  1. Seek support – Anxiety can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. During times of stress it is important to access support as needed. This could include seeking social support from friends and family, attending a support group, accessing self-help materials or consulting with health care professionals as needed.
  1. Problem solve – If problems with budgeting and excessive spending exist, then problem solving by speaking with the bank, financial planner or credit counselor might be appropriate.
  1. Put yourself first – During times of stress it is important to set priorities. This includes putting yourself near the top of your priority list by ensuring that you take care of self by eating a healthy diet, doing physical exercise, reducing negativity and practicing good sleep hygiene.

Media: Need a Source?

This week, clinicians in CAMH’s Work, Stress and Health Program are available for interviews regarding stress and anxiety brought on by workplace issues and the economy.

CAMH's Work, Stress and Health Program takes an evidence-based approach to treatment, with an emphasis on education, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and pharmacological interventions. The program also provides workplace consultation and training in collaboration with employers regarding occupational mental health issues.

To schedule an interview, media please contact: Michael Torres, Media Relations, CAMH at 416 595 6015

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