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Managing Stress in a Tough Economy

80% of Americans on the East Coast identify money as a significant source of stress in their lives, according to the 2011 American Psychological Association, Stress in America Survey.

And, while the economy, housing market, and job markets remain significant concerns for many, personal finances remain the most common concern for Americans.To a large extent, our lives revolve around money; it determines our housing, our schools, our clothing, our meals, our self-care, anour entertainment. It is closely connected to our education, our employment, and, to some extent, our identity. It is no wonder so many Americans report financial concerns.Financial stress is often overlooked and dismissed as an insignificant, common experience; however, worries about money can have very significant effects on our lives, including our daily functioning, interpersonal relationships, physical health, and emotional well-being.

Personal ImpactEffects of Stress

When we are faced with stressors, we experience physiological, emotional, and cognitive arousal. Activating chemicals, such as endorphins, cortisol, and adrenalin, are released in order to help up rise to the challenge of meeting the demands of these stressors in order to effectively manage them and reduce the tension or distress we are experiencing. This is called the flight- or-fight response. When the stressor(s) are perceived as too great for us to manage or cope effectively, we can feel overwhelmed.

Stress that is acute or chronic may manifest itself physically, emotionally, and/ or behaviorally. We may then find ourselves trapped in a loop of worry, intense emotion, and a lack of ability to take action to successfully manage those feelings or resolve that which is stressful.

To complicate matters, in addition to managing our own physical, emotional, and behavioral effects of stress, we continue to be responsible for our homes, our work, and our families.

Financial stress can create worry about how your financial situation will affect you and your family’s lifestyle, emotional well- being, and future plans. Financial and legal consultants may assist in developing financial plans to protect your assets and secure your future; however, financial worry can be overwhelming. Help yourself cope with some of these strategies.

Tips for Managing Personal Stress – Addressing Stress and Anxiety

  • Be aware of your unhelpful thoughts and modify unrealistic thinking. We all have moments wherein we unintentionally increase or maintain our own worry by thinking unhelpful thoughts. These thoughts are often unrealistic, inaccurate, or, to some extent, unreasonable. Identify those thoughts. Think about them and how the affect your feelings and behavior. If they are not helpful, change them to more helpful, adaptive thoughts. For example, beware of thoughts that overgeneralize, are all-or-nothing, in nature, catastrophize, or make negative predictions or judgments without sufficient evidence.
  • Practice acceptance. Navigating challenging times may result in long-term growth and positive change.
  • Be in the “now.” Too much worry about what may or may not happen and you will be unable to enjoy the present moment. So, schedule time to plan for what may come, but take in all that is your present moment and enjoy your now.
  • Take a deep breath. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing or other relaxation inducing practice can reduce stress by helping to encourage relaxation.
  • Take a break. Everyone needs a break to restore their focus and well-being. Whether it be a simple change of pace or scenery, enjoying a hobby, or switching “to-do” tasks, breaking from concerted effort can be refreshing.
  • Take action. Engage in an activity you enjoy, such as taking a walk, listening to music, or reading. Engage in problem- solving. by identifying the causes of distress and considering options for relief.
  • Practice good self-care. Quality nutrition, sleep, and exercise help relieve stress and maximize health and resiliency.
  • Maintain social and family connections. Social support is a significant factor in resiliency and successful stress management.

Tips for Managing Family Stress – Addressing Finances with Children

When a family is struggling financially, it is challenging for parents to shield their children from their distress.

  • Pay attention to your child’s level of understanding of your financial situation. Help them to understand in an age- appropriate manner and reassure their safety and stability.
  • Model good problem-solving skills, collaborative decision making, and positive thinking.
  • Be mindful of your own emotional reactions and thoughts; take care not to overreact and consider all viewpoints and options.
  • Encourage your children to be involved in family decisions such as deciding on fun, low-cost family activities.
  • Maintain consistency in home routines. Structure and familiarity help children to feel safe and secure.

Dr. Deibler

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Managing Stress in a Tough Economy

Marla W. Deibler, PsyD

Marla W. Deibler, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and nationally-recognized expert in anxiety disorders and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, including trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding, and tic disorders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia in New Jersey, an outpatient facility specialized in providing evaluation and evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral therapies for these and other difficulties. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of OCD-NJ, the New Jersey affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). Dr. Deibler gained her formative clinical experiences at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Children’s National Medical Center, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. She gained specialized behavior therapy experience in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders at the nationally-recognized Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington. Dr. Deibler served as a clinician at the National Center for Phobias, Anxiety, and Depression. She also served as Director of Behavioral Sciences at the Temple University School of Dentistry and served on the clinical faculty at Temple University Schools of Medicine and Allied Health as well as Temple University Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Deibler has published scientific research in peer-reviewed journals and has presented clinical training seminars and research findings at national and international meetings. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, A&E’s “Hoarders”, TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, CBS News, ABC News, FOX News, It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle (CN8, Retirement TV), and CBS’s “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace”. She has been quoted by media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and the Connecticut Post, among others. Dr. Deibler holds licenses to practice psychology in New Jersey (Lic. No. 35S100438000) and Pennsylvania (Lic. No. PS0157790). She is an active member of the American Psychological Association, Trichotillomania Learning Center, International OCD Foundation, OCD-New Jersey, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Dr. Deibler resides in suburban Philadelphia with her husband (who is also a psychologist) and three children.

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APA Reference
Deibler, M. (2012). Managing Stress in a Tough Economy. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Dec 2012
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