November 11, 2020 by Mark Hammerstrom
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”—Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
I was all set to write a blog on an entirely different subject when, well, last week happened.
If you are like me, the persistent question throughout all of this was “oh gosh, what’s next?” That is nothing new, though, because that was the question the week before. And the weeks before. And now, likely, the weeks to come.
Let me ask a question: what feelings did you experience over the last few days and weeks?
Take a moment and chew that around. Are you feeling stressed out? Elated? Angered? Fearful? Go ahead, try and sort things out for a moment.
What did you find?
I know my emotions ran the gamut from surrender, to fear, to anger, to relief, to hope, to confusion and back again. Talking with friends and family clearly I am not alone in trying to grasp what is going on and how circumstances largely out of my control will impact life in the here and now.
I am writing this on the Tuesday after election day (week) and had fully intended to write this on financial stress and what to do about that. When I woke up, however, the breadth and depth of events pulled me totally out of that frame and along a different path.
Let’s recap: Last week was the election. Historic voter turnout. A tortuous path to determine the presumed president-elect. Rumors, challenges, and accusations from all camps. Anger. Frustration. Disbelief. Really, it continued all weekend long.
Waking up Tuesday we find: the hope of a new vaccine for COVID! Financial markets delighted and going up like a rocket. Unfortunately, the vaccine will not be available on a widespread basis for some time. Financial markets waffle. New COVID cases also skyrocketing and the so-called second or third wave looks to be awful. Some good signs in the job market, but for those still in need of support no clear direction on help from congress. Rents will be due, delayed mortgages must be paid; small businesses still need help in recovering to further increase job growth.
What a brew! And the challenging part is that if I was writing this two days from now that last paragraph would be so very different but by no means shorter.
I have had people tell me that a “new normal” is what we should be striving for. Yet events which can profoundly affect our lives come at us at an unprecedented speed, there is no time to land on a new normal. For me, accepting the fact that ambiguity is really the new normal helps a lot.
Not dealing with our emotions during times like these is really not an option. Doing so runs the risk of damage to our mental and physical health and to that of those around us.
What can we do?
Last week I was going to write this blog on financial insecurity and stress during these challenging times. Dr. Brad Klontz, financial psychologist, wrote a blog for CNBC regarding this subject (“Tips for dealing with financial anxiety” read it here) which included five actions we can take to alleviate and deal with our unhealthy emotions. He included five key points to keep in mind, not just for financial balance, but in my opinion also for life balance. They are:
- Know you are not alone
- Take a time-out
- Avoid catastrophic thinking
- Think about the worst-case scenario
- Ask for help
There is no doubt we are all in this together. Getting back to some level of regularity will require all of us to work together too. It is okay to talk about feelings and differences. If things get too tense, take that time out. Deep breathing helps and taking quiet times can refocus our thinking. If possible, focus on the next right thing to do and do that. One thing at a time. And when our active minds go down a rabbit hole, avoid the temptation of a ‘bottomless pit’ scenario. Rarely, if ever, do our greatest fears come true. In fact, think about what you were concerned about two weeks ago. I would guess many of those concerns are quite different today. Have you considered the ‘worst case’ scenario? If we are realistic, our ‘worst case’ is probably not life threatening, and unlikely to happen, but it certainly involves change. Like most change, however, it will evolve into something else if we focus on doing the next right thing.
If all of this is just too overwhelming, it is time to ask for help. There are a ton of resources out there for managing life during trying times. One good resource is the National Institute of Mental Health’s website (https://www.nimh.nih.gov). There are all number of resources available to help us cope with these difficult times. Of course, do not hesitate to see your doctor or other medical professional, even if you are just out of sorts, as they can provide much needed direction and help in times like these.
Tough times do not last, but what we learn from them can help us throughout our life. I have no doubt we will come through this strong and healthy as Americans do. We need each other, though, and when we handle things together, we are simply the best!
United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency that has been providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners in the Midwest since 1950. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com, call 877-723-2902, or check out our YouTube video.
Image provided by: CC