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Health & Balance

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Your 9-Point Health Bailout Package

Stressed by the Economy? Don't Let It Wreck Your Health

8. You really want a drink.

That might be a red flag for some people, says Sue Hoisington, PsyD, LP, executive director of clinical services at Hazelden, an addiction treatment and recovery services provider based in Minneapolis.

"I think there are people who can drink a glass of wine and it relaxes them and there's nothing abnormal or unhealthy about that. The people we're concerned about are people who may be vulnerable to addiction or people who already use alcohol or drugs as a way to relieve stress," Hoisington says.

In the past three to six months, Hazelden has been contacted by five or six people who have "either relapsed or their use has increased to the point where it's problematic because of anxiety and worry about the economy and/or loss of a job," says Hoisington.

Her advice: If your drinking or drug use concerns you or someone else, get a confidential assessment to see if there's a problem. Hoisington suggests calling your company's Employee Assistance Program, a counseling clinic, your local mental health service, or Hazelden.

9. Your happiness has taken a major hit.

That might not last forever.

"The impact of money on happiness depends to some extent on where you are on the income ladder," says Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Canada's University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"People tend to be very sensitive to changes in their circumstances, so when you first look at stock portfolio and see that it's a lot smaller than it used to be, I think you do experience a bit of a hit in terms of well-being. But people seem to be able to adapt to new circumstances very quickly. So even people who are feeling a bit distressed right now will probably bounce back fairly quickly," says Dunn.

She and her colleagues recently conducted an experiment in which participants given bonuses either spent the money on themselves or on charitable donations or gifts to friends. Participants reported feeling happier when they spent their money on others.

"My research suggests that even if you don't have a huge amount of financial resources, use what you have to try to benefit other people. So if you can use the remaining money you do have in positive ways, that can still provide you with happiness, even if your slice of the pie seems to have shrunk."

Her advice: "Instead of worrying too much about exactly how much money you have, think about how to use it best."

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