Surviving the Storm

The economy may be stagnant, but to overcome it, you cant be

Toward the end of 2007, Jacqueline Jackson, a realtor in Orland Park, Illinois, was struck by how much her business had taken a tumble. She had sold more than $3 million in property the year before, but she says, “One day I woke up and I realized I hadn’t had a closing in a year.” Grim projections for the ailing real estate industry only added to the uncertainty Jackson felt about her ability to maintain her business and standard of living.

It’s difficult to find anyone who doesn’t have some feelings of anxiety due to the uncertain economy. Whether it’s small business owners slicing their own paychecks to keep their companies afloat or employees adjusting to salary cuts as they worry about losing their jobs, many Americans are struggling to stay positive amid a pending sense of doom. And the current recession may seem worse than other times because “ its impact has been felt by people all over the world from every walk of life,” says Dr. Gloria Morrow, a licensed clinical psychologist in Upland, California. “In the past, if you were forced to deal with a shortage of income or were having a little trouble paying your bills, there was the hope that things would get better quickly. Now that the media is constantly reminding us about a continually down-spiraling economy, I think some people are panicking.”

With it being anyone’s guess how long it will take the economy to recover, the uncertainty that has been building since the downturn started cannot be eliminated with a quick fix. Experts predict the overall feeling of doubtfulness will remain long after the recession reverses. So the best thing for people to do is learn to function in this new reality and channel their anxiety into actions that will minimize the effects of the downturn on their personal lives.

Here are some ways to take charge in the midst of uncertainty:

Look for new income streams. Rather than worrying about whether you’ll get laid off, look for ways to turn a hobby into income or make some extra money on the side. That way you’ll cushion the blow if the worst case scenario does happen and you lose your job. “You want to have something that you can do right now as a second source of income or something you can create for yourself to help sustain your family in the case of that pink slip,” says Kimberly Seals-Allers, author of The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit: How to Find Your Side Hustle in ANY Economy (Amistad; $14.99).

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