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Coping with Stress in Difficult Times

Here and abroad, the current economic crisis is taking a physical and emotional toll. A recent American Psychological Association survey indicates that nearly half of Americans reported that their stress level has increased substantially over the past year, with about one-third labeling their stress levels as extreme. Money matters were reported to be a leading source of stress for 8 out of 10 people surveyed.

Financial insecurity, and for many - real losses in investments and retirement funds - coupled with instability in gas, food and housing expenses, have created a “perfect storm” for extreme stress. Even with dramatic government intervention in the markets, many people are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Uncertainty is a universal source of anxiety, and given the financial roller coaster that Wall Street has become, that uncertainty is beginning to take its toll. This uncertainty is not confined to the stock market, but has spilled over to:

  • Job stability
  • Relationships
  • Personal safety
  • Housing costs
  • Gas, oil and basic commodities

As in other sorts of crises or disasters, sudden, shocking and threatening events can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. People can experience anxiety in the form of higher heart rates and blood pressure, sleeplessness and changes in appetite, as well as aches and pain, and general physical tension. Such stress can affect our mood and emotional state, our ability to focus and solve problems, and our relationships at home and at work.

Unfortunately, it is known that financial stress is also related to increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Stress, left unchecked, has actually compounded existing problems and become an obstacle to job-seeking or decision-making in difficult times.

Strategies and Resources

You can find immediate help by going to our NJHelps website, which is a free and easy guide for you to determine what programs and assistance for which you and your family may be eligible. NJHelps will tell you where to go for help and what to bring with you, after you have answered a few basic questions. NJHelps can also provide you with contact information and links to valuable resources available throughout the State.

What NJHelps cannot do … NJHelps cannot guarantee that you qualify for these programs. You must still apply for help by contacting and filling out the required forms for each program. Here is the link for this application page on our website:

It is important to keep in mind that you are not alone. As dire as the situation may seem, there are some useful strategies and resources to help people cope and manage the emotional challenges of tough economic times.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has published helpful guidance for coping with the stresses related to the current economic climate. Please check out the links below:

For emotional support, you can also call New Jersey MentalHealthCares' Disaster Mental Health Helpline - toll free - at 877-294-HELP (877-294-4357) to reach experienced crisis counselors. A TTY line is also available at 877-294-4356.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. 988 is now operational for behavioral health crisis calls 

Better Times are Ahead

Like any crisis, the recent public health emergency and instability in the global financial climate is time-limited. Some of the strategies and techniques outlined in the APA stress management sheets linked above can be useful in helping individuals, families and communities in weathering the economic storm. Reach out and offer your support to others as well. As with any other disaster or crisis, staying connected with your supporters is essential.

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