Managing Financial Anxieties During the Holidays

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

With news of a recession, it’s no wonder that many Americans are feeling anxious about their financial situation this holiday season. According to Saint Joseph’s University psychologist Phyllis Anastasio, Ph.D., these anxieties are amplified by constant media reminders.

“Of course we have other, more realistic reminders — our 401Ks are declining in value, we may have trouble getting a loan — but seeing and hearing bad news about the economy can make Americans feel much gloomier about their futures than they would without the media constantly reminding them about it.”

Anastasio says that people tend to rely on the present to judge the future.

“It is the here-and-now that has the most impact on us, and if the current situation is less ideal than it was a year ago then it may be difficult to see hope for the future,” she explains. “It is easy to think that the lost job is a permanent condition, or that the college loan will never be secured. Anxiety disorders and depression are increasing as a result of the current economic crisis, and there is a worry that suicide rates may increase.”

So what can we do to alleviate some of these negative feelings? Anastasio offers the following suggestions:

  • Take little steps to feel more in control of your future. Use coupons, walk to work or carpool, forgo the Friday night movie. Remind yourself of all of the things in your life that you continue to control, and all of the ways in which your life has stayed the same during the crisis. Don’t focus on how circumstances have changed.
  • Reflect upon what gives your life meaning, such as family, friends and religion.
  • Readjust your expectations. You may have to retire later than expected, put off buying a car, or tighten your belt in other ways.
  • And finally, remind yourself that the economic climate is temporary.

Anastasio can be reached at 610-660-1807, by e-mail at, or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 610-660-1222.

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