Economic Stress

The patron saint lost causes; desperate situations is St. Jude Thaddaeus.

“He said to his disciples, therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.  For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.  Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse or barns; yet God feeds them.  And how much more you are worth than the birds!  Can any of you, however much you worry, add a single cubit to your span of life?  If a very small thing is beyond your powers, why worry about the rest?” – Luke 12:22-26


WHAT IS IT?

Stress is a necessary and integral part of human life. Stress can help you to get up on time, to challenge yourself and to accomplish your goals. Healthy stress appears when you need it and gives you the energy and initiative to take needed actions and then lessens when the need has passed. But too much stress, particularly over prolonged periods of time, can cause disruptive behavioral or even physical symptoms.

Economic stress can be triggered by actual stressful experiences such as the loss of a job or home, for example, or major changes to your family’s income and budget. Anticipated or possible events, however, can be just as stressful as actual happenings. The fear of your family losing their home or no longer being able afford college costs can be just as stressful, and sometimes more so, than the actual events.

HOW TO MANAGE IT…

The American Psychological Association offers these tips to help deal with your stress about money and the economy: (www.apa.org)

  • Pause but don’t panic – There are many negative stories in newspapers and on television about the state of the economy. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype, which can lead to high levels of anxiety and bad decision making. Avoid the tendency to overreact or to become passive. Remain calm and stay focused.
  • Identify your financial stressors and make a plan – Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. Although this can be anxiety-provoking in the short term, putting things down on paper and committing to a plan can reduce stress. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company.
  • Recognize how you deal with stress related to money – In tough economic times some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. The strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments between partners. Be alert to these behaviors—if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or community mental health clinic before the problem gets worse.
  • Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change –Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities to take stock of your current situation and make needed changes. Think of ways that these economic challenges can motivate you to find healthier ways to deal with stress. Try taking a walk—it’s an inexpensive way to get good exercise. Having dinner at home with your family may not only save you money, but help bring you closer together. Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through your employer or look into low-cost resources in your community that can lead to a better job. The key is to use this time to think outside the box and try new ways of managing your life.
  • Ask for professional support – Credit counseling services and financial planners are available to help you take control over your money situation. Find a professional Certified Financial Planner who can evaluate your financial situation and provide the necessary advice customized for you (see “4 Tips for Finding the Right Adviser”). If you continue to be overwhelmed by the stress, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your financial worries, manage stress, and change unhealthy behaviors.

RESOURCES

Catholic Charities of Orange County

Address: 1820 E. 16th Street, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Providing quality professional social services to those in need and increasing the dignity of individuals and families through advocacy and education. Since 1976, Catholic Charities of Orange County has fed the hungry, consoled the hurting, and cared for the young, thereby providing help and creating hope for all people of Orange County, regardless of religion, ethnic diversity, culture, or creed. The following services are offered:

1. Cal Fresh (Food Stamp) Programs – 714-347-9601 or toll-free 877-847-3663 – helps families in assistance with the new Food Stamp Program.

2. Counseling Center – 714-347-9674 – provides professional individual and group counseling sessions.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Orange County

Toll-free phone: 1-800-213-2227

Non-profit organization that provides debt management, credit counseling, financial education workshops, and home purchase advice.

Unemployment Services – State of California Employment Development Department

Search for a job, file for unemployment insurance or disability leave, and find job-training resources (also see Employment/Education).

Doris Cantlay Center 

Phone: 714-668-1130

Provides food and basic necessities to individuals and families in need.