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Money Problems Needn't Hurt Your Health

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Dr. Ernest Levister Jr.
Just about every where you look these days the news is bad, the housing crisis, staggering job losses, bank failures, big three auto bailouts, gas prices rising (again) public servants acting badly. While it may seem like the sky is falling, you needn’t allow personal financial meltdown to harm your health.  Anxiety associated with financial uncertainty can endanger your physical and mental health. Eight of ten Americans now say the economy is a significant source of stress –which contributes to ills from headaches to heart disease – according to a recent survey from the American Psychological Association. And 52 percent are having trouble sleeping at night – which is bad news since sleep loss is linked to higher blood pressure and lower immune response.

Some behaviors add to the damage: almost 50 percent of Americans say they overeat or eat unhealthy foods to cope with increased anxiety. But you can conquer anxiety without compromising health.

Here are some suggestions for coping:

Laugh out loud. Read newspaper comics.  Check out Jump Start, Blondie, Cathy and Doonesbury. A good laugh helps suppress stress related hormones. Lavender or jasmine reportedly lowers anxiety and makes for a more restful sleep.

Brisk walking for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week lowers blood pressure and boosts mood.  Limit the 24/7 news talk channels. Wake up to soothing music. Studies show the distasteful lyrics and hard driving beat in some popular tunes can lead to increased heart rate. A constant diet of ‘aggressive’ hip hop is not the best way to cope with financial anxiety.  Lower stress hormone cortisol levels by visiting a library, museum, park or take in a movie – select a romance or comedy. In today’s economy, excess worry over finances could lead to the loss of more than money.

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