How to stay calm during the financial crisis

It’s hard to avoid all the anxiety-provoking headlines right now. Every day seems to bring another prediction of financial doom and gloom, with talk of a Eurozone crisis and even another recession. You don’t have to be a financial whizz to understand the effect these might have on the UK’s economy - especially as we face years of cutbacks to reduce our national deficit. 

But – especially if you are prone to excessive worrying or anxiety – it’s important to keep things in perspective: 

1. Anxiety is caused by two things: overestimating how scary, unpleasant or difficult things will be in the future (see point 2); and underestimating our capacity to deal with whatever gets thrown at us. If we look back at our life, things (exams, job interviews, house renovations, periods of very hard work) rarely go as badly as we expected. And, crucially, even if they were tough we had the strength and resilience to get through them. A good mantra for these uncertain times is: Things are rarely as bad as I imagine and I am much stronger than I think.   

2. Remember that for many newspapers, ‘fear sells’. Many of the scare stories in the newspapers and on TV are based more on guesswork and worst-case scenarios than actual facts. The media loves to ‘catastrophise’ (predict the future based on little hard evidence and expect the worst-possible thing to happen) but that’s no reason you should. Also remember all the good news stories that get buried every day – for example, there’s a massive boom in green technology in the UK right now, which will create many thousands of jobs and see hundreds of small businesses start up and thrive. It’s not all doom and gloom… 

3. Try to think and act flexibly. For example, even if you got made redundant, you could use that redundancy money to retrain and move into a sector of the economy where more jobs are available. Some of us may need to move to a different area to find work, downsize, or take on more of the childcare while our better-paid partner works full-time. This is not to underplay the impact of redundancy or unemployment, which can both be extremely tough. But being flexible about whatever challenges life throws at us is the best way to deal with them and get through hard times.

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