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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Stock market crash, mortgage crisis, rising inflation: What you need to know for stress relief and sanity!

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 18th 2008

main falling off coinsWhen the stock market is crashing, the mortgage crisis is spiraling, and inflation is rising, what are you doing to keep your head on straight? I've seen a number of people come into my office lately with their minds mimicking the spiraling of the economy. In other words, their minds are frenetically worrying about the future and how they will handle this downturn. In our line of work we call this type of thinking Catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing is a style of thinking that amplifies anxiety. This style of thinking expects disaster. We may be looking at a situation or challenge that is facing us and then automatically imagine the worst possible thing that could happen. The mind continues this with the what if's game. This is when our minds go on and on about what if this worst case scenario happens. Some of us may do more of this than others.

The pundits and newscasters are especially good at feeding this style of thinking. Why? One reason is because they are a business for profit and fanning the flames of this style of thinking makes you pay attention to them and the more viewers they get, the higher their ratings are, the more they make on commercials. Don't get me wrong, I think it's important to watch the news and be informed. At the same time, I am suggesting that we start becoming more aware that in this time of financial instability it is much easier for us to become activated in our minds and bodies. Therefore, it is even more important to be aware of this so we don't unintentionally amplify our stress and anxiety (and depression and addictive behaviors).

Those of us who are urgently affected by this financial downturn or even if you are just worried about it here is an effective way of managing the challenge:

  • Notice when your mind is catastrophizing and set time aside to intentionally plan your best course of action. Having your mind spinning on and off during the day with worry versus intentionally making time to consider your options will make a major difference on your stress.

  • When your mind starts spinning during the day, notice what is doing, even name it if you can (e.g. catastrophizing), and remind yourself that you have time set aside later to really think about this. That will more likely put your mind at ease in that moment.

  • You may also want to take a few deep breaths and then refocus your attention on the task you are doing in that moment whether that is paying attention to your spouse, friend, or kids or just trying to be effective at your job.

At the end of the day, we all hold wisdom from our experiences, so please feel free to share what is helpful to you in managing your life during this challenging time. ,

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Very Good! - John Lowery - Sep 19th 2008
Great Article!  I think you hit the nail on the head.

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