When money is tight, psychotherapy is often one of the first service “luxuries” to become de-prioritized. The irony is that therapy is probably needed more in times of financial distress. Many people who have been caught in the misfortune of being laid off or watching their business dwindle have found themselves increasingly anxious and/or depressed or just simply stressed. Those with full time employment have not been entirely safe from fear as they are faced with budget cuts, furloughs, concerns about hourly cuts and loss of tenure, or not being able to provide continued employment for their employees. Care providers have witnessed higher rates of suicide ideation and debilitating depression and sense of hopelessness.
If you fall somewhere in this space, don’t fret – you are not alone. Whether you are someone who has battled depression/anxiety in the past, or are experiencing this for the first time, there are things you can do to lighten up in the midst of this financial darkness. Here are a few suggestions:
1) Eat healthy.
Regardless of which school of thought you adopt, one thing that many western medical doctors (MD), chiropractors, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) healers and other practitioners can agree on is that stress has negative effects on the body. When stressed, many of us may start ingesting more fatty foods, alcohol, and/or nicotine to cope. Eating and drinking to cope can create added stress for your body – especially your liver. Do yourself a favor and keep your liver happy.
When feeling depressed, the last thing we may want to do is put on our running shoes. But as you may know, exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good. So take a kick boxing class, visit your favorite salsa spot, go for a bike ride, or take a 30 minute walk with a friend instead of meeting at Starbucks. It will make you feel more productive too.
If you have trouble sleeping, turn off your tv, laptop, iphone, ipad, droid, Blackberry etc. at least 30 min before you sleep. Keep the gadgets away from your sleep space as much as possible. Your brain needs to shut off. Read a good book instead. Don’t worry, facebook will still be there in the morning.
Spend time with people who make you feel good. Good begets good. Sharing joy and laughter with those you love and who love you can remind you of what is great in life even when you are worrying about paying the bills.
5) Positive thinking
This too shall pass. You won’t feel like this forever. In the meantime, think about the things for which you are grateful and make a list (clothes on my body, food to eat, bed to sleep in, ability to walk, see, hear, read…)
6) Find inspiration
Read. Write. Paint. Dance. Bake. Find something to invest your energy in that brings you joy.
7) Tried it all?
If you are still not functioning (not showering, sleeping all day), seriously consider seeking professional help. Some therapists are able to provide pro bono or sessions at reduced fees. Even though it’s hard to spend money when you feel you cannot or should not, this is an exception. Get the help you need.