How to Handle Recession Anxiety
Managing fears when the economy looks gloomy.
You’d almost have to be living on an island with no wifi to not be impacted by the current global economy- indeed, financial anxiety is everywhere. Within the last 2.5 years, the world has swung us around so wildly that it has felt impossible to catch our breath. From the panic of the initial shutdown, we faced an unprecedent rise in housing prices. Gas dropped to lows we hadn’t seen in decades. Interest rates fell- and kept falling. House prices soared. We all worked from home. Things were wild.
Now that things have appeared to stabilize on the COVID-front, we are left with an economy that is reeling from the war in Ukraine and out-of-control inflation that we haven’t seen in 40 years. In the past year, we have seen the Bank of Canada hike interest rates 6 times this year already, with one more likely to come. There seems to be an eerie feeling of impending financial doom in the air, and clients are sharing their concerns with us in the therapy setting. It seems to be doom and gloom.
Many Canadians are facing inflated rent prices, shocking grocery store bills and transportation costs. Other Canadians are worried about losing their homes or retirement accounts. It is a pressing time for many, and the anxiety is real. So, what can we do about this?
Why We Feel Anxiety
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotional characterized by feelings of tension and worry with physical changes (like chest pressure, “butterflies” in the stomach, racing heart and tension in the body). We feel anxiety when we are uncertain about the future. Sometimes, we feel anxiety when we are certain about the future! Anxiety is a common complaint of people who we treat in our in-person and online therapy clinic.
Many people have struggled with the uncertainty of the pandemic, the feeling of loss and grief associated with lockdowns, and the worry about health of themselves and their loved ones. Now that things are stabilizing, we are witnessing historical economic shifts. This has meant that some of you might be fearful of day-to-day costs, and others are worrying about their ability to keep their homes. Anxiety about the recession is very real.
Anxiety Management Tip 1: Serenity to Accept the Things You Cannot Change
One of the most important (but difficult!) ways to deal with anxiety is to begin to make some sort of commitment to accept the things you cannot change. There is so much that happens around us and so much of it is out of our control. You can lay awake worrying about the “what-ifs” but unfortunately, that only steals time away from your present moment.
The reality is that when we worry about the things that we cannot change, not only do we increase stress and tension in the here and now, but we also tend to mentally create a future reality that is far worse than what is true.
The raw deal is that life is going to march on and do its thing, whether we like it or not. Acceptance does not mean that you agree with what is happening, that you like what is happening, or that you feel good about what is happening. It does mean that you accept what is happening and release the panic and struggle that it will be any other way than it is.
This might practically mean adopting a mindset that says, “Right- here we are. I don’t love where I am, but here I am, nevertheless. So, given that fact, what can I realistically do with the information I have to help me in the here and now?”. Releasing the desperate tension that things might be or should be different allows you the space to creatively consider how to deal with circumstances that are beyond your control.
Anxiety Management Tip 2: The Courage to Change the Things You Can
When it comes to managing anxiety, the next thing you can do is focus on what you can control. This means moving your gaze away from the focus on the economy in general and looking at your personal financial situation. It might be that you decide that for now, you take on a part-time job (maybe even one working from home) to supplement you and help you get by until this storm passes.
You might contact your mortgage company and speak to them about ways to manage your payments until things stabilize. Perhaps you fall in love with preparing new meals at home or finding date night ideas that are cost-effective.
The point is: while there are so many factors that are out of our hands, there are still forces within our control. Those are the things that we need to focus on to change our lives for the better. Most of the time, change begins with our attitudes and the way that we choose to look at things. If we have the courage to change those, we can experience a more balanced state of mind and achieve a degree of serenity.
Anxiety Management Tip 3: Remember – This, Too, Shall Pass
When the times get rough- and let’s face it, they have been rough over the past (almost 3!!) years, it can be helpful to remember that all of life happens in cycles and seasons, and that they always pass. Pairing times in the economy to seasons of nature can be useful for many people. For most of us, we are in an economic winter. But we all know what happens when the winter passes- we get the extended light of days that start to stretch, the snow melts, and we begin to hear the birds sing once again.
In history, there have been many cycles of economic prosperity followed by economic downturns followed by- you guessed it- economic prosperity. Each season follows the law of nature and financial issues do as well. Things will get better- they always have, and they always will.
During a recession, there are many opportunities for dramatic expansion and growth. Some of the largest companies in the world have begun during economic recessions and depressions. So, take heart. Things are going to get better.
Anxiety Management Tip 4: Connect With. Therapist- Invest in Your Mental Health
It goes without saying that these hard times can cause anxiety and financial insecurity. In these times, it makes good sense to make use of your benefits. At the London Centre for Trauma Therapy, we provide help for anxiety about the recession, and we are proud to offer therapy for anxiety in our office in London, Ontario and virtually across Ontario. Your therapist will help you to manage your worries and learn new techniques to cope with the uncertainty of the future. Click here now to book a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist today.