September 3, 2009
Recession stress: How do you combat it?
Dwindling hours. Lost wages. Low morale at the office. Low morale on the job hunt. Reports that the individual health insurance plan you purchased (that is, if you qualified for and could afford one) probably won't cover all you thought it would. News that almost 40 percent of Americans over age 62 have put off retirement since the recession began.
It's enough to cause even those with even the most secure jobs and abundant bank accounts to hurl the remote at the evening news or curl up in a ball under the covers.
As Kelly learned, the recession-stress antidotes of self-employed decision makers run the gamut, from hitting the shooting range to fencing in the driveway to playing poker with pals to hiking, biking, kayaking, surfing, and on and on and on. One interviewee cited reality TV as his stress buster of choice. Another cited baked goods, preferably the kind with sprinkles on top.
Predictably, the health expert interviewed -- no doubt worried about workers' risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and the like -- advised a brisk 30-minute walk every day, or at the very least, three brisk 10-minute walks.
Of course, recession stress isn't just a health issue. It's a productivity issue. A new study shows that ongoing stress renders rats pretty crummy decision makers, and some experts say the same is true of humans. You think you're functioning just fine, but suddenly, and with alarming frequency, you find yourself walking into rooms without remembering why or forgetting to pick up the milk you need for your morning coffee, the interview suit you left at the drycleaners, even the kids you dropped off at soccer practice four hours ago.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you to take up archery, meditation, or long-distance running. I know you know how a person's supposed to -- in theory -- relax. Besides, as a gal who wound up in the ER last year with a work-related anxiety attack, it would be ridiculous for me to advise anyone else to breathe deeply and calm the heck down. (Incidentally, the $2,000 hospital bill that my high-deductible health insurance plan did not cover did little to assuage my nerves.)
I would, however, love to hear what folks are doing to soothe their worried minds and combat their boiling blood pressure this year. A vigorous hour-long walk with my mutt always does me good, but sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes the only thing that helps is diving into a tub of chocolate chip mint ice cream while watching that day's episode of "One Life to Live" on the DVR (mock all you want, but the inane dialogue and insipid plot twists relax me).
How about you?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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