The United States is expected to enter into a recession sometime in 2023. A recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth with a decrease in spending that can result in job loss and other financial concerns.
Recession and mental health are inextricably linked. Financial stressors related to a recession can cause or worsen conditions such as anxiety and depression. Fortunately, most recessions last less than a year and there are ways to mentally cope with financial issues while navigating a downturned economy.
How a Recession Can Impact Your Mental Health
A recession can have a significant impact on mental health. Some people experience increased stress and anxiety due to job loss, financial insecurity, or the fear of being unable to make ends meet. Even people who don’t have financial concerns going into a recession can have cause to worry about money which results in uncertainty and emotional unrest. Be aware of how you are feeling and know you are not alone.
- Financial Stress – Job losses or pay cuts can feel insurmountable as people try to pay household bills and feed their families. In addition, rising costs for necessities such as food and housing can cause further strain on already tight budgets. This type of financial stress can be especially difficult for people already living paycheck-to-paycheck or who don’t have savings or emergency funds.
- Isolation – The psychological effects of a recession are often overlooked but shouldn’t be underestimated. People may feel isolated from loved ones who are also struggling financially. This isolation and feelings of helplessness and despair could lead to depression or anxiety disorders.
- Grief – Being laid off from work can affect self-esteem or create other mental health concerns. Many of us wrap our identities into our work, and when that is taken away without warning or fault of job performance, it can shatter someone emotionally and cause an immense feeling of grief.
It’s important to be aware of changes in your mental health and to take proactive steps to maintain your mental well-being during this time.
Dealing with Financial Stress During a Recession
It’s important to be mindful of how financial uncertainty can affect your mental health and for you to know there are things you can do to lessen the stress.
- Create a Budget – Creating a budget will help you better manage your finances. Document all your necessary expenses, such as rent/mortgage payments, utilities, and food costs. Next set aside money for other areas, such as entertainment or savings, if money is still available. It’s also helpful to track where your money goes each month so you can understand what you’re spending on different items. This knowledge can help you identify places for potential savings.
- Talk to a Financial Advisor – Talking with a financial advisor about your options can help alleviate some of the pressure. They can provide advice on budgeting strategies and offer insight into any government programs or resources that may be available. Many states offer assistance programs for individuals facing financial hardship due to a recession.
- Supplement Your Income – Another way to reduce the burden of shifting finances is to supplement your income. Consider freelance work or side hustles that might help bring in extra cash, but be careful not to put too much strain on yourself if this isn’t feasible due to current circumstances. The last thing you want is to add even more stress to an already difficult time.
Top Tips for Keeping It Together
While things may seem extremely difficult during a recession, don’t forget to remind yourself this is a short-term situation and it won’t last forever. While you wait for the economy to right itself, consider implementing some tools you can use for keeping yourself emotionally healthy.
- Stay Connected Family – Because a recession can cause isolation, it’s important to stay connected with friends and family. Make sure you reach out regularly through phone calls, video chats, or in-person activities. This contact will help keep your spirits up while also providing an outlet for discussing how the economic downturn is impacting you.
- Find Time for Relaxation – Engaging in enjoyable and relaxing activities helps keep you in balance and it will help maintain a positive state of mental health. If reading a book, listening to music, or just getting outside for a walk makes you happy, set aside time to make sure you keep these activities within your daily life.
- Set Realistic Goals – It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. Instead of setting lofty goals that are unattainable, focus on smaller goals that are more manageable. Goals like creating a budget or learning new skills will help you feel empowered and they will help you better manage through financial uncertainty.
- Manage Stress – Managing stress levels is essential for maintaining mental health during difficult times. Meditation and journaling can both help reduces stress levels and calm your mind. As an added bonus, they are both low to no-cost activities that you can enjoy in your own home.
- Care for Your Physical Health – Eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep each night are basic daily activities we all need. These practices will help keep your mind sharp and help you maintain resilience. Your mind and body work in tandem. The more you care for your physical health, the more prepared you will be to support your emotional health.
Where to Find Professional Help
Resources are available for those who need support. If you feel you need help, take the time to locate the right services for your situation and personality.
- Traditional Counseling Services – If necessary, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. Mental health professionals have experience helping people navigate their way through tough times and many specialize in treating anxiety, depression, and stress.
- Online Counseling Services – Many online counseling services offer affordable therapy sessions via video chats or phone calls. This option is great when you can’t afford traditional in-person therapy or you don’t have access to it due to location or other factors.
- Support Groups – Support groups allow people to connect with others going through similar experiences and share advice or strategies for managing their mental health. These groups are often free or low-cost and can be found online.
- Hotlines – Hotlines provide free, confidential help 24/7 from trained professionals who can answer questions about concerns like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. Hotline workers can also provide referrals to local resources if needed.
- Crisis Centers – Crisis centers offer emergency help for situations such as suicide attempts or severe emotional distress. They provide short-term crisis intervention services which can include assessment, safety planning, and referral information. Depending on the center’s availability and policies, these services are available over the phone or on-site.
A recession can be challenging, especially if you experience job loss. Remember you don’t have to cope with financial stress alone. All Counseling’s therapist directory can help you find a mental health professional to help.