Thoughts On Business, The Economy And A Silver Lining

When most articles and items in the news seem designed to add to the individual’s and the nation’s stress, there it was, in print and on the Web, the silver lining. Well, OK, maybe the lining is a little tarnished. But, nevertheless, there is was: an acknowledgement that sometimes good can come from a truly bad situation.

 

The bad is obviously the recession (even the experts can’t decide either how deep it will go or how long it will last) Link

 

The silver lining (tarnished) is, well, the recession.

 

I’ve blogged a lot about stress (just put stress into the search box on the lower right side of this blog). Stress really is a subtle killer. One of the major contributors to America’s stress overload has been our focus on work and consumption. The Jones’ have a 54 inch TV in the living room! Well, the Smiths’ new “must have” (how I loathe that cliché!) is a bigger TV in the living room AND one in the bedroom. Just work extra hours! Who needs sleep? Why waste time on the kids or community or friends or exercise? De-stress with a beverage or comfort food or a smoke or a pill. But keep on working those extra hours for that bigger TV (or bigger house or second SUV or designer watch).

 

Did anyone ever stop to think just how nuts this is? Working extra hours to have something you don’t have the time to enjoy. When are you going to enjoy it? One week out of the year as you alternate between your cell phone and laptop and run from one “must see” tourist site to another?

 

Well, the recession may be a cure for all that.

 

It’s called furloughs or enforced fewer hours. Along with the reduction in pay comes more time for leisure (family, friends, community – remember?).

 

“Now she’s nuts,” you’re thinking. Along with a reduction in pay comes more stress – the mortgage, healthcare, oh, and food. Like one woman mentioned in the Times article, you might have to give up your only luxury – smoking!

 

I did say the silver lining was a bit tarnished. There would certainly be belt tightening. But as long as the reduced hours don’t eliminate benefits, the belt tightening may reduce stress.

 

  • Exercise: It costs nothing (well, maybe new sneakers) to walk or take up running. Now you have the time. Walk instead of ride.
  • Belt tightening: Use the library instead of buying books or DVDs.
  • Community: Matter of fact, volunteer at your library! Or the hospital or animal shelter.
  • Friends: Take that friend walking and talk about sports or fashion or celebrities or technology instead of going to a sporting event or shopping or a show or just e-mailing.
  • Family: Remember board games and cards? Does your child’s teacher know who you are? Another place to volunteer!

 

Well, you understand. I’m neither naive nor independently wealthy. I know how much things cost today and that a reduction in income REALLY hurts. But if the basics are covered, look at the new found time as a gift. Who knows? It may extend your life.

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN

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