Managing Anxiety in an Uncertain Economy

This is a guest blog post by Greater Mankato Growth member, Mankato Clinic.

Our economy has been turned upside down and sideways. Even as businesses reopen, worry about surviving the economic impact is reasonable and common. Amid this uncertainty, here are some ways to manage anxiety.

  • Plan around the things you can control. Many aspects of business and finance can feel volatile and out of our control right now. It might help to make a list of the things you can control, such as personal spending, investment choices, business decisions. Make short-term plans around those choices. Plan for a period of a few days or a week, adjusting the plan once that period is over. While you may decide to make no changes to your plan, remind yourself that you can change those plans at any time if needed.
  • Avoid overexposure to financial information. Constant checking of markets, accounts, and finances can lead to an increase in anxiety, and worse an increase in impulsive decision-making. Try to limit checking these sources of information by setting a schedule for yourself. If that is too hard, ask a trusted advisor to check for you and let you know if important decisions need to be made.
  • Engage in the good things happening around you. While the trees you pass on a daily walk, or a board game with family may seem small and insignificant, really putting in the time and effort to enjoy them can be a great help in managing anxiety and re-centering your decision-making.
  • Limit exposure to the news. The 24-hour news cycle can be exhausting. Information overload, especially when the information is repetitive and alarming and increases anxiety. Try to limit news to 30-60 minutes a day. More than that probably won’t make you more knowledgeable, but may make you feel worse.
  • Practice self-care. A strong self-care routine includes leisure activities, hygiene, exercise, and healthy eating. When we are under stress, it’s more important than ever to take good care of our bodies and minds. The catch is we feel like we have less energy to take care of ourselves. Try a couple of small self-care tasks a day to get the ball rolling.

While some anxiety is normal during times of high uncertainty and risk, signs that professional help may be needed include:

  • Insomnia. Intermittent sleeplessness that lasts for a couple days at a time can be a normal response to stress. If it is persistent or sleep is reduced to 3 or less hours a night for long periods of time, it’s best to address stress or anxiety professionally.
  • Frequent crying, persistently depressed mood, and lack of motivation that keeps you from completing your usual daily tasks.
  • Panic attacks which cause physical symptoms of a racing heart rate, shortness of breath, dry mouth and chest pain.
  • Worry or racing thoughts that are persistent enough to interfere with completing your usual daily tasks.

Getting help

The best way to get help is to reach out to your primary care provider first. Your primary care provider knows you and mental health professionals in the area. Many mental health professionals are conducting telehealth visits so you can do your visit from home. 

If you have a loved one who doesn’t want to seek help or is determined to manage their anxiety on their own, begin with an expression of empathy and concern. Something like “I’m worried about you” or “I love you and I want you to feel well” might be a good lead-in.  Be prepared for a refusal. If the person refuses or becomes offended, try not to let it become an argument. Simply let them know you are there for them if they change their mind and let them think it through on their own. It’s better to plant a seed and let it grow than to try to stomp that seed into submission. It may help to provide a couple names and numbers so the person has an opportunity to seek help with less effort.

24/7 Crisis Resources

  • Call the South Central Crisis Center at 507-344-0621 or 877-399-3040.
  • Call Minnesota Mental Health Crisis Services at **CRISIS (**274747) from a cell phone to talk to a team of professionals who can help you.
  • Text “MN” to 741741.

By Kimberly Haala, PhD, LP, Mankato Clinic Behavioral Health Consultant

Dr. Kimberly Haala offers behavioral health services in Family Medicine at Mankato Clinic Main Street.