The recession and recent cuts has put a lot of people and families under severe pressure and stress. Whilst it might seem like things aren't getting better, it might actually be the ideal time to keep an open mind and use this as an opportunity to stimulate positive change.
There is an old joke among economics that goes;
‘recession is when your neighbor loses their job and depression is when you lose your job’.
The words ‘recession’ and ‘depression’ are loaded with meaning for most people. While economists and mental health professionals might be able to offer detailed definitions of both terms, it seems to suffice to describe it in terms of a downward trajectory, whether financial or in terms of psychological and emotional well-being, over a sustained period of time.
While the human mind is capable of coping with a multitude of challenges, the inability to earn enough money to support a way of life can prove difficult for the toughest of us. A common response to having safety, one of the most basic human needs challenged, is panic, stress and depression.
However, often fear prevents us from tapping into resources available to us, as we are too concerned with the scarcity of our immediate situation. Some psychotherapists believe that depression (feeling low, lacking energy, too much or too little food and sleep) is the body’s way of gathering and sustaining resources for the next phase. Viewed in this light, it is not necessarily a wholly negative experience. If allowed, such times offer the space for creativity and reflection, which may be rejuvenating and ultimately a strengthening life experience. In most cases people do eventually come out of a period of depression whether with or without professional help.
While it may well feel like it this is not the rest of your life. Trusting this can prove difficult when faced with bills and mortgage payments. However changing your perspective on the situation or ‘reframing’ as it is known in psychological terms can have a positive affect.
What prevents most of us from allowing our minds to open up to a different perspective is the inaccurate belief that without the fear our motivation to take action will diminish. The truth of the matter is that fear paralyzes us. Fear does not foster creativity.
Yes, losing your job has real consequences. However, there is every reason in the world to believe that something equally good or better can come of that, as there is to believe it is disastrous. There are a few inspirational stories out there, largely hidden among the histrionic newspaper headlines and news reports, of how hard times can stimulate positive change. J.K. Rowling, for example, was on social security when she began writing the now lucrative Harry Potter books.
Self Care and supportive habits
The best ideas are often simple, manageable, and achievable. The act of writing a daily gratitude list, even if only 3 small things, such as speaking to a friend on the phone, can be an empowering way of not just defining your life within the paradigm of your financial status.
It may not be the time to go on a big holiday but there are other ways of looking after you and enjoying yourself.
- If it all gets too much just breathe!
- Look after yourself, eat well, sleep well, exercise
- Keep a routine – allocate time to search for jobs/network etc.
- Do voluntary work
- Take time out to enjoy yourself e.g. if you can’t go on holiday go for a day at the beach or countryside
- Get support – having a good network of friends is a great way of managing a depression.
Naturally when depression is severe and when there is a history of depression and mental health issues, it is advisable to receive professional help. In the face of challenging times a common reaction is to retreat and shut down. However, entertaining negative thoughts about the future and fearfully holding on to the past, takes us out of the present moment. The only moment we will ever find our selves and the only place where we have true (creative) power. The invitation is to ask yourself if you see any reason that is not stressful, to hold on to the negative thoughts. As the video clip beautifully demonstrates, there are two ways to live. One is stressed out, the other is not. Either way, the situation is the same.