Your 9-Point Health Bailout Package
Stressed by the Economy? Don't Let It Wreck Your Health
3. Working out has gone by the wayside. continued...
"Stress makes people feel very negative, and negative emotions such as
anxiety or anger kind of zap the energy out of people ...
and when you feel fatigued or lethargic, of course, you don't feel motivated to
move and exercise," says Sabrena Merrill, MS, a spokeswoman for the
American Council on Exercise and a personal trainer with her own company,
Fitness Logic, in Lawrence, Kan.
But "exercise can actually be a technique for stress
relief," says Merrill. Her advice:
- Shake up your routine. Skip the grueling workout and do something
"a little more fun," says Merrill, who suggests walking, raking leaves, gardening, biking, or whatever
physical activity you enjoy.
- Do it first thing in the morning. "Before you get up and go out
into the world, if you can take some time for yourself to exercise, you're more
likely to get it done," says Merrill. "As the day wears on and we think
about our financial situation and we hear the news and everything's so
negative, it really does zap your energy."
- Low cost, no problem. You don't need a gym. "There are many
great options for home exercise in the form of either books or DVDs," sys
Merrill. "Many people struggle with [what] I like to call paralysis by
analysis. You know you want to do something but you don't really know exactly
what so you just never do it. My recommendation is that you just move your
"Hang in there," says Merrill. "I know everyone's feeling it,
myself included, and I really do practice what I preach. I was up at 5:30 this
morning just to get it out of the way so I could feel better about my
"Usually, if a person can recognize the positive aspects -- I'm talking
psychological positive aspects, not necessarily the look-better-naked ones --
then they're more likely to get hooked. Then it becomes a situation where they
couldn't imagine not exercising, because then they would feel horrible if they
didn't exercise," says Merrill.
4. Your sleep is suffering.
Stress is a well-known sleep
wrecker, and Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM, WebMD's sleep expert, is already hearing
from patients who link their sleep problems to financial stress. That doesn't
just include his patients.
"Some friends have made some recent comments to me that they have never
had sleep problems before and now they are," Breus says in an email.
Breus offers these tips for getting your sleep back on track:
- Keep a worry journal. "Take a blank piece of paper and write
your concerns on one side and then one solution on the other," says
- Relax before bedtime. Breus suggests a "hot bath, relaxing
music, yoga, sex, exercise, whatever works for you."
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, consider counting
backwards from 300 by threes. "I know it sounds a bit weird, but you cannot
think of anything else and it is so boring you should fall back asleep. If you
get to zero, get up and go into another room until you're tired," says