7 Steps for Reducing Economic Anxiety
You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that created it
One million people were asked how they feel about what is going on with the economy in a recent CNN survey. The consensus? People are mad! Our economic woes are off the charts-soaring stress levels and angry feelings find many of us walking around like time bombs. The human body can only adapt to so much stress before something blows, and racking your brain to find a solution rarely works. A new way of thinking-one that calls on more than the rational mind-must emerge to manage the chaos. Einstein wasn't just being clever; he was highlighting the inner workings of creative innovation throughout time.
Consider this. If your economic life finds you overwhelmed about the future, and your mind keeps replaying one scary scenario after another, how can you possibly think your way out of a tough situation? You can't. You can try, but "trying" to think our way out of the current economic malaise according to old models is a bit like trying to swim for shore when you get caught in a riptide. You can put all your mental muscle to the task, but the harder you swim the more likely you are to drown. Better to do what any experienced surfer knows to do when he feels the inexorable pull of the riptide: let it take you. The mental battle will surely take you down. Let me offer another approach to surfing the tough waves of economic anxiety.
A Whole Body Solution
Whole Body Consciousness (WBC), a term I coined in my book, What's Your Body Telling You? is your best ally in difficult times. This new way of thinking engages your whole body, not just your brain. Your cognitive mind alone cannot see the bigger picture. Nor can it track the as-yet-uncharted course to solid economic ground. WBC invites the mind in your gut, the mind in your heart, and the intelligence of your body that Deepak Chopra calls "the mobile brain" to help you navigate rough waters. Your personal economic situation, as well as our national and global fiscal crisis will inevitably change-and more than likely it will change for the better in time. Flailing around in the crosscurrents of the mind will only exhaust you. For this and all challenges, we need new coping strategies that engage our full and complete innate intelligence, from head to toe.
Seven Whole Body Tips
These seven tips will help you do more than just cope by unraveling stress and unleashing creativity. Employ these tips to reduce economic stress or help you with any other challenge you may be facing.
1) Stop Over thinking! Letting your mind take you through a house of horrors can make you more anxious and push you into blind action that turns scary fiction into fact. The best way to sort out too many thoughts is to separate what is fact from fiction.
For example: You heard someone at the office say your company is downsizing (fact). You "think" you will be fired and never be able to find another job (fiction).
2) Scan your Body. Detect and release tension in your body from head to toe. Take a few moments throughout the day to check in and notice what your body is telling you. Are you breathing rapidly, tensing your body, or gripping the phone, steering wheel, or computer mouse like there is no tomorrow?
3) Breathe Consciously. Instantly calm your anxiety and gain focus through conscious breathing. Taking five full deep breaths-in through your nose and out through your mouth-will slow your breathing and instantly reduce anxiety. Deep breathing also helps you disengage from fearful, catastrophic thinking. As Gay Hendricks always says: when you breathe deeply, fear dissipates.
4) Move Your Body. Exercise of any form will circulate energy throughout your whole body and give you a break from obsessive mental activity while releasing built up tension.
5) Communicate. Tell someone what you are feeling. Get your concerns off your chest and ask for support from friends, family or a professional coach or counselor. Holding your fears inside builds anxiety to proportions that can make you sick, depressed or immobilized. In this case, silence in NOT golden.
6. Get Innovative. Think out of the box. Make a list of proactive steps you can take to improve your resume, and broaden your skills and services to fit a larger market.
7) Look for Treasure. Turn a dream, idea or talent that you never pursued into a lucrative business. Golden opportunities often present themselves in the midst of chaos. People have turned the loss of a job into a golden moment to start a new business. One client turned her grandma's peanut brittle recipe into a source of steady cash flow after losing her corporate job.