Dealing with Financial Hardship and Overwhelming Work Stress

Today’s sad news about the suicide of Freddie Mac CFO David Kellerman and the shooting/suicide deaths of Christopher Wood, who killed his wife and three young children first, really hit me hard. Both apparently related to job stress or financial and economic hardship. No doubt, there are many reasons why people take such extreme actions, but it’s at times like these you must realize that there is more to life than money and work. The current recession has, and is, taking it’s toll on workers and their jobs, family finances and retirement plans – but to give up on life is very sad indeed. I don’t know the details or the motives behind why people would commit suicide, but the key is spot the signs of personal stress and to get help. Here’s some of my thoughts on how to deal with stress and hardship:

Acceptance : The first thing you have to realize, understand, and accept is that the situation is not hopeless. With just a little guidance, a couple well thought out goals, and emotional support from family and friends, you can do what needs to be done and come out of dire circumstances. Easier said than done I know, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and millions of people have found their way out of the darkness. Accepting that you are facing a problem (mental issues are just as bad as physical ones) is the first step in getting down the road to salvation.

Getting Help : Talk to a friend, loved one, your doctor, pastor, a debt counselor … but talk to someone! If you know someone who is exhibiting the traits related to depression and stress, help them! It doesn’t matter whether you lend an ear, offer some advice, or help them get counseling, do something! Most companies offer free counseling for their employee and their are many local and state agencies that offer counseling services (search on-line).

Money comes and goes : Financial hardship faces many and I know the feeling of not having money to buy what you need. This recession has made things much worse for many families and unfortunately some people resort to extreme actions on themselves and their relatives. If you are facing financial hardship and need help start by contacting your creditors/banks and explaining your situation. With all the help available in the stimulus package and from state agencies, there are many more roads to get our of your financial hardship than you may realize. Inaction and refusing external help can be your biggest mistake. Also, don’t rule bankruptcy as a realistic option – laws are soon coming into place to help people lower their credit and mortgage debts.

Work is work, not life : A lot of people, particularly those in high profile jobs, have their identify associate with their job. Work comes before family, friends and all else. If there is a dramatic change in work (e.g. Job loss) or the work load becomes overwhelming many take it as a deep personal failure. If they feel they are failing in their job, then they associate it with failing in life. However, this mind-set needs to stop. The best way to realize this is to look at those less fortunate than yourself (the homeless, disabled or destitute) and appreciate what you have. Believe or not, tomorrow will come and no company or job is indispensable. At the end of the day, you are just a number in your company. Your life is your own and unique, treasure that.

Setting Priorities During Financial Stress : Sometimes when everything feels overwhelming and you are feeling lost, then the best thing to do is take 10 minutes and make a list of the things that are most important to you. Focus on personal and family items, and take a long term view. Issues that seem urgent now, may not seem so critical in the bigger picture of things. Also, break down things to get done in small chunks. Things can look much bigger and unachievable when viewed from an overall perspective, but dividing a task or action plan can make things much easier.

When you start feeling helpless and lose hope, life can become so overwhelming you literally stop functioning in the real world. This is the time to get help, It is unlikely that you can get out of it by yourself and you need external help. Don’t wait any longer because the outcomes of your actions can have far reaching, unintended consequences. Believe me, I have seen this one too many times.

If you know of any other ways or methods to cope with financial hardship or stress, leave a comment. Links to useful sites are also welcome.

~ 10 ways to Quickly Improve Cash Flow
~ I Want My Bailout Too and Here’s Why
~ Too expensive to file for bankruptcy

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