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What Now? Staying Positive Through Economic Troubles by Beth Jones, RLP

With all the uncertainty and endless bad news about government bailouts, stock market drops, and job losses that we are inundated with on a daily basis, you may be wondering “What now?” Although we can’t control any of this, we can control our actions and reactions. Don’t get me wrong; the news can wear you down.

It’s not surprising that a December study published by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that negative news about the economy is causing significant stress for 8 out of 10 people—up from 66 percent in April.

I can always tolerate the stress of a bad situation better when I ask myself, “What can I do right now to impact the situation?” A good first step is to take inventory of your money, create financial goals and strategies, and put them into action.

Financial anxiety can have a profound impact on your quality of life—so we thought we’d share some tips to help you minimize stress during these challenging times:


Focus on the long-term
When the markets are swinging up and down, it’s hard to concentrate on long-term objectives. But remember that your investments should be structured to meet the needs of your personal situation—factoring in your life goals, your tolerance for risk, and your time horizon.

Depending on your situation, you may have certain investments allocated for specific goals and needs. Investments for long-term goals are typically invested more aggressively, which means they can be—and probably have been—more volatile. Keep in mind that you likely won’t need to liquidate these assets in the immediate future, so there is time for them to recover from their losses and potentially grow even more. Alternatively, investments that support short-term needs are generally invested in strategies that seek to reduce volatility and risk.

It’s normal to feel like the markets will rise forever during bullish periods or drop until they’re worthless during bearish periods. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has reported that we’ve been in a recession since December 2007. We fully expect this to continue a bit longer before turning around, if history repeats itself.


Take care of yourself
Anxiety of any sort can have negative effects on your health. According to the APA, stress-related physical and emotional ailments were on the rise in 2008. In the short term, stress can cause irritability, headaches, muscle tension, insomnia, fatigue, and many other symptoms. Longer-term chronic stress can lead to more serious conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

The economy is certainly not worth risking your health, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this stressful period. Try getting outside for some fresh air, taking a daily walk, riding a bike, and eating healthy foods. You can also try relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, massage, and deep breathing. Getting plenty of sleep is important, too. If the evening news is causing you alarm and keeping you up at night, consider reading an enjoyable book instead.


Concentrate on the positive
It may be best to steer clear of news stories that shout tales of doom and gloom. Although our economic situation is quite serious, keep in mind that some media outlets have a tendency to sensationalize stories to attract a larger audience. This can cause unnecessary alarm. Instead, try finding positive distractions, like watching an upbeat movie, listening to your favorite music, or committing to at least one weekly lunch with a friend.

Volunteering is another helpful distraction. Nonprofits often struggle in bearish climates when fundraising dollars tend to decline. Food banks, for example, have seen a notable increase in the number of people needing assistance to help feed their families. Animal shelters have also been particularly strained this year; they’ve received a large influx of abandoned pets from people who are experiencing financial or housing constraints. Organizations like these could use some helping hands.


Stay focused on your life goals.
Where do you want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Do you want to make a difference in the world or your local community? What rocks your world? Start to dream about how you want to spend your time…what does your perfect day look like? You deserve a fulfilling life. Get focused on that and create a plan to get there.


Beth Jones, RLP® is an independent Financial Consultant and Registered Life Planner with Third Eye Associates, Ltd in Red Hook, NY. She can be reached at 845-752-2216 or www.thirdeyeassociates.com. Securities and Advisory Services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.



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