5 Therapy Tips to Manage Your Recession Fears

As I am writing this, the stock market is going up today. But my newsfeed has multiple banks predicting a recession soon. Inflation is eating up our income. And Ray Dalio is predicting something called, “stagflation,” which is evidently worse than inflation.

Are we heading into a recession? Will inflation ease up? Will we end up with stagflation? Or will the economy roar back to normal? Seems like most experts can’t agree.

What should those of us who aren’t financial pros do? I’d like to continue putting food on the table, pay our bills, and even save some money over the next several years.

I am not qualified to make any financial recommendations, but as a professional counselor, I can give some pointers on handling your fear and anxiety in these times.

I don’t know about you, but my mind is an expert at taking something like a potential recession and finding ways to beat me up over it.

“Why haven’t you built a bigger emergency fund?”

“You chose a brilliant time to carry any debt!”

“You invested more than $1 in crypto? Way to go, Einstein!”

During such uncertain times, my thoughts go from self-flagellation to frantic calls to action and back again. I end up wanting to throw up my hands and give up.

How do you cope with all the uncertainty? What can you do to manage your stress amid this money crunch?


5 Tips on Dealing with Your Recession Fears


1. Focus on someone or something that brings you joy and laughter.

Like most people, I have several pain points that constantly vie for my attention. Including financial concerns. When I give all my attention to my fears, I can easily get pulled into a downward emotional spiral (yep, it happens to therapists, too!).

Limit the time you spend reading financial news. Instead, fix your complete attention on a hobby or a person who brings you joy. There’s nothing like giving my full focus to my toothless five-month-old son’s smile that puts life into perspective.

I’m not recommending that you distract yourself from addressing your financial fears. You need to face them. But give yourself some space to enjoy those people or activities that bring joy to your life.


2. Get some insight on where your thoughts take you.

When you buy into the thought that you are heading toward financial ruin, how does your behavior change? What do you start doing when you give your focus to such thoughts? What do you stop doing when you focus on those thoughts?

Does the belief that you are on a collision course with financial ruin help you take action to better your financial situation? Or does it pull you into behaviors that make things worse?

You may not like the answers to these questions. But you cannot change what you won’t acknowledge.


3. Let the “doom and gloom” radio play in the background.

You can’t shut off your financial fears and anxiety altogether. I bet that your mind is going to tell you about all the horrible things that it predicts will happen long after any recession has come and gone.

Try this: imagine that your mind is a radio. Not just any radio, but a “doom and gloom” radio. The kind of radio that really sets the mood at a party. 24/7 it is telling you about all the horrible things that are going to happen to you financially.

Don’t bother trying to turn the radio off, you can’t. Don’t believe me? One of the main reasons people end up in my office is trying to control or shut down uncomfortable thoughts or emotions. Your mind tells you that you should be able to stop your thoughts. I bet your experience says otherwise.

Instead, imagine the doom and gloom radio playing in the background. I know, doom and gloom radio creates quite the mood. By letting it play in the background, you can acknowledge it for what it is and put your attention on what’s most important to you.

Or you can keep wasting time and effort fighting your thoughts. I would recommend the former course of action.


4. Make a plan for who you want to be and what you need to do to prepare for a recession.

Maybe, like me, you wish you had followed a budget better for the last three (or thirty) years. You can’t change the past, but you can plan for today.

First, define what you want to stand for in hard financial times. For me, I want to be brave and make wise financial decisions in this season. I want to practice self-care and bring a spirit of joy and fun to my family rather than stress and anxiety.

How about you? What values do you want to honor in this tough financial time?

Next, what do you need to do? Make a plan.

I need to review my aforementioned budget and slash unnecessary spending. I want to increase our emergency fund and hopefully still save some.

Pro tip: Reviewing our finances evokes feelings of shame in me. Maybe you, too. As a result, I often avoid doing it and want to especially right now. Reminding myself that I want to stand for being brave and wise can motivate me to face my insecurities.

Getting in touch with who you want to be in stressful financial times can give you the courage you need to take the actions steps that these times require of you.


5. Speak an encouraging word (or more if helpful).

No one talks to you more than you. In these stressful times, beating yourself up for what you did or didn’t do just makes things worse.

It doesn’t have to be an elaborate pep talk. After you’ve made your plan, just tell yourself, “I can do this,” in a kind tone.

This will save you getting even more upset and allow you to focus on executing your plan.

Are you struggling with loss & grief, anxiety, or burnout and live in Ohio? Reach out to me at Oak Harbor Counseling Services. My office is conveniently located in northern Columbus. You can learn more about my counseling practice here or email me at [email protected].

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Brent Flory

Brent is a licensed professional counselor in Columbus, Ohio. He works with adults and adolescents, and specializes in helping people who are struggling with anxiety, loss & grief, and burnout.
In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his family, playing basketball, and eating too much ice cream.

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