Your 9-Point Health Bailout Package
Stressed by the Economy? Don't Let It Wreck Your Health
Oct. 9, 2008 -- Plunging markets. Shaky mortgages. Pricey bailouts. The
financial crisis is taking a toll on your wallet, but your health could also be
on the line.
stress can take a toll on your body; it's linked to everything from depression to heart
disease. And the global economic tailspin has been a chronic stressor for
weeks, with no end in sight.
But there's no need for your health to slide into its own recession. The
following nine tips may help -- and they won't cost you $700 billion.
1. You're obsessed with the markets.
Maybe you need to unplug a bit, suggests Kenneth Ruge, PsyD, a
psychotherapist, marriage counselor, and minister in New York who's seeing
economic stress take its toll on his clients, who include Wall Street workers
and their spouses.
"I'm suggesting that some people go on a news fast -- stop reading the
papers, stop going online every two seconds to see if the market's up or down,
stop connecting your sense of well-being to the stock market price that hour or
that day, because that's just a yo-yo," Ruge says.
Ruge's advice: Focus on the big picture -- and he doesn't mean your mortgage
or stock portfolio.
"What are your real values and what's really important in your
life?" Ruge asks. "The deeper values and meaning for most people's
lives is in their relationships -- in who they love, in their children, in
their marriages, in their friendships."
2. You've been scarfing down comfort food.
Many people reach for food and eat more often when they're anxious, but it
doesn't work in the long run, says Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, WebMD's
director of nutrition.
Under stress, people tend to seek pleasurable foods that are high in fat and
sugar, like chocolate or apple pie. Those foods may provide a "very
short-term calming effect, but that's all you get, because food really can't do
anything to help you cope with stress," says Zelman.
Find other ways to relax, such as going for a walk, meditating, or
listening to music.
Have some healthy
snacks on hand. Try nuts, trail mix, or baby
carrots and celery; their crunch "helps release some of that nervous
energy," says Zelman.
Keep portions small. "If you really do crave something sweet,
try to keep the portions small," like a Hershey's Kiss or a snack-sized
bar, says Zelman.
"Who knows how long this [financial] situation is going to last for us?
Zelman asks. "This stress could go on for months, and it could really lead
to some serious weight gain and then, of course,
all the health consequences of being overweight or obese."
3. Working out has gone by the wayside.
You're missing out a big stress buster if you ditch exercise and other physical activity.