When facing unavoidable extreme amounts of stress, what protective measures do you take? Right now I'm dealing with high amounts of stress due to my wife having to quit her job because it was causing her to have anxiety and anxiety attacks daily. To the point she would black out. As relieving as it was to quit that situation it brings forth the stressful situation of economic uncertainty. . What else do you do assuming diet compliance is good as well as quantity of sleep?
Congrats to your wife for taking a powerful step in improving her life's priorities. (And for improving your life, too.)
I can remember being in a job where the day I quit was the day I realized they could pay me $1M/year and I would still hate the job. The relief, when I walked into my boss' office and quit, made me realize my work needed to be satisfying, regardless of the pay.
Rather than following the "don't be a quitter" mantra I was force-fed being raised by WW2 survivors, I decided to seek income that could nurture and pay my bills. I stopped being a good girl and many stared incredulously when I told them I'd just jumped off the track. What they didn't realize was how incredible my life was to become.
I bloomed. I became an adult. I started living life in color. I stopped chasing the almighty dollar.
And I learned many come to this point in their lives and I was not alone. And, I've, sadly, watched those that stayed in the executive treadmill decline in health and happiness, regardless of their income.
So, my advice to your wife is be prepared for Act II of your life and know "it gets better." Start taking CLO, a LOT of CLO...500mg/10lbs body weight.
Get outside. WALK for at least 90 minutes a day. Walk fast enough to feel that it is a workout, not a meandering meditation. No cell phone, no music, just be alone. Go somewhere in nature, where you are not reminded of work and not bothered by people. And THINK. Think about those times in your life where you were truly happy.
Remember what that felt like. What were you doing? Why was THAT satisfying?
Then "process" what just happened. How did you get from there to here? Recognize when you will decide to leave unhappiness and be committed to the role and value of workplace satisfaction. (Read Do What You Are, if you have not yet. This book will give you insights into your personal talents and how to sell yourself into the right skill based occupations. It sounds really dry, but it is a great book and will explain some of the issues she is facing now.)
For you, I'd recommend addressing the financial aspects of your life. I've learned how to "live on nothing", through working as a contract teacher and now teaching and going to school for a doctorate. My life is satisfying and I have all that I could want and rarely wish for more because my life fulfills my needs for intellectual stimulation AND personal connections. Notice all my calculations refer to "income" which is +30% of the cost savings, or what you'd spend on taxes if your wife was working.
Here are my secrets to living well on a teachers salary:
1. Real Estate: The biggest bang for your buck.
*Option One: Live close to work.* An extra $200-300 in rent will save you more than that in gas, car insurance, and depreciation due to mileage, not to mention giving you and your wife more time for each other. Life is too short to have commutes eating up +90 minutes of your day. The ability to walk to work provides a healthy way to start the day AND a commute costing nothing. (I save $400/mo because I walk to work.)
If you own your home, consider downsizing and renting it furnished. Depending upon the market, you should be able to free up $300-500/mo. (Gross that up with taxes to $450-700/month and that's $5,400 - 8,400/year in additional, taxable income.) It is easy and cheap to find nice furniture on Craigslist, especially in early Sept and May/June when many people are moving. I furnished my current place in Boston for about $1,000...for everything. And I rented my place in SF for +$500 my mortgage+tax expense, resulting in cash flow equaling a $7,800 raise in my salary.
*Option Two: Live far from work.* Save $300-700/mo and live in a 'shack'. I used this strategy to pay down my student loans quickly, which works for singles, but I wouldn't recommend it for couples. I was spending $1,500/mo on student loans and $300/mo on rent and was able to pay off my loans quickly, but I sacrificed a lot socially and sleep-wise due to the 2 hour commute. I don't recommend it for health reasons, but it is effective for the very disciplined.
2. Household expenses.
Downsize technology. Call your cable company renegotiate to have ONLY internet service. Your wife will need it for job searching (and you obviously will need it for PH) and you really don't need Cable TV to live. That should save $50-80/mo, or provide an income of $780 - 1,250/year. You don't *need smart phones to live, either. Call your provider and tell them you need to downsize. They might give you a great deal for the next year, or might not. Get out of your contracts, now! Get a flat rate Text/phone plan and save at least $100/mo, or $1,560/year in income, including taxes.
Downsize your car expenses. If you have two cars and one person can walk to work, or commute, get rid of a car. If you have a motorcycle, get rid of it. The savings in insurance and gas (plus depreciation) can be considerable. If you have a car lease, determine if it is worth it to keep it, with the knowledge that it might take her TWO YEARS to find a job she loves. This perspective makes you think long term and allows her to see you are committed to long term happiness which may mean she quits a few jobs a long the way. Be committed to the process and aware that it may take years, so don't mess around now thinking this is a temporary financial set back. (Anxiety attacks take years to build and the chemistry will take years to rebuild. She needs a LOT of positive reinforcement for !.) making this decision and 2.) through out the process of finding a new job.
Estimated Car Expense savings $200 - $500/mo, or +4,000-8,000K/year in income.
Downsize Heating, A/C, etc. These can consume an amazing portion of your budget. Many cities have inspectors that can look for leaks for free. A little, or lot, of caulk/insulation can result in huge savings. Heavy curtains, yes, even in the summer, can also help with heating and A/C issues. These can be found cheaply at discount stores or on Craigslist when homes are getting redecorated. (You may have to downsize "cute" for a while, too.) This can save over $100/mo, or $1,560 in income.
For a couple, these savings would total +5,000-10,000/mo in income.
3. Food. This one is easy. Cook everything. No more eating out. PERIOD. This will save at least $400/mo and for some it will be closer to $1,000. (Eating out for lunch 3x per week at $12/meal = 36/wk ~ $200/mo. Double that for two people, or throw in a couple of nice restaurant dinners and it adds up quickly.) That is $6240 to $15,600 in income.
4. Behavior that is rewarded is repeated. You need to reward both of you for working toward the right goals. Whether it is saving cash, or making 5 phone calls that day to find a job, the incremental behaviors that lead to long-term success need to be recognized. Plan romantic picnics, which cost only food. Go star gazing, and research the night sky so you can be her tour guide. Tell her she has to come up with "free" events that you'd enjoy to mark her success and can only do so after her 90 minute walk and 5 phone calls. Celebrate the progress to a new job. She needs to be thanking you as much as you are thanking her for making that great leap. Change is painful to start, but necessary to grow.
One of the funny things I've watched through living my life this way is that "normals" seem fascinated by my apparent freedom to run off to exotic locales and chase amazing employment opportunities. I have truly lived an amazing life, one that I could have never dreamed in my 20s and early 30s. I am ABLE to do this because I live debt free (other than my mortgage, which I view as a business, since it provides income.) and never live beyond my means. I recognize my impulses to shop, or covet material things, then realize those material possessions provide NOTHING in life satisfaction.
If you total the above suggestions, you'll be providing your family with an "income" of around $20K per year. Take your current salary, add $20K to it, and ask yourself if that is enough to provide for your family. Hopefully it is.
Best of luck on this amazing journey!
Check the chamber to make sure shot is loaded, and then fire at center of body mass. If the bear is charging, chances are it'll still get to you before it bleeds out, so don't stand around after firing.
Well... you did say "extreme".
Think day by day, even minute by minute if necessary.
Don't even think about tomorrow. Think about now and do what is best for you now. When under stress, I think if you try to tackle too much and think long term... you become very frustrated. I go into panic attacks.
I have to minimalize my ideals....remember you ONLY have to survive. Only have to have good food. We are all so enslaved by our material possessions and lifestyles that they bites us in the butt. You can live without them. Better than dying with them. Then of course, maybe tomorrow is a better day and you can keep your microwave after all.
In the mean time when there is no answer at hand.......stop looking for one. We are only ready for change when any alternative is better than the present.
I had an incredibly stressful year a few years back (my father died, leaving an estate and business in distress for which I was responsible, while I had 2 infants at home), and one step at a time I got drawn completely into the mess. At the height of it, I had lost 10 pounds (not in a good way) and was drinking enough coffee and bourbon to stun an ox... every day.
What kept me somewhat sane was once in a while, just completely unplugging from the situation(s)... in my case I had to get away from work, home, and my phone, so I would go on a long walk by myself, without necessarily even telling people where I was going. With two infants in the house sometimes this meant going in the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping (hey I wasn't sleeping anyway). This can be a bit selfish, but the best way that you can support the people in your life that need support is to remain balanced and sane yourself.
Also if you have any friends that have relatively uncomplicated lives (like some of my perma-bachelor friends whose most difficult decision every week is which football game to watch), go hang out with them and have a couple of beers and laugh for a while, and try not to think about your troubles.
I tried to focus on the fact that I was "me" regardless of what was happening, and that these situations always pass, even if at the time, they don't seem like they ever will. When things get really overwhelming, you can sometimes get so caught up in them to the point that you might feel that your identity is defined by their outcome. But it isn't... everything passes.
Today, 5 years later, my father's estate and business were settled long ago, my kids have grown, and I'm on a new diet and lost 20 pounds and feel great. I wish someone could have told me that this was possible 5 years ago...
Exercise. When I'm extremly stressed out I've started "running it out". I'm overweight, have asthma, but I just do the best I can. It's better to at least do something with all that nervous energy. It also helps me stop thinking about it for a small time.
I try to sleep as much as I possibly can. When finals come around, I'll go to bed at 7 if I can. While that's hardly ever possible, I definitely make sleep a priority and make sure its high quality sleep with a pitch black room and no electronics before bed.
Several Asian schools have developed great techniques for stress management. The best known are yoga and Tai chi. Their basic concept is deep breathing, concentration, stretching and a search for physical harmony. If you can afford some yoga or Tai Chi class (some are inexpensive) I strongly recommend it.
I am a planner - so I need to set a plan in motion and steps to achieve the plan. So for your wife - finding a new job - or getting some more education to facilitate a new career path - or something of the like. This will help with her happieness as well.
For me working towards a goal really takes the stress level down.
I am so sorry to hear you're having financial stress..that is certainly something so many people can relate to, myself included. One thing that helps me during very stressful times is the thought that NOTHING is permanent, it's all just a stepping stone, a phase, a brief moment in my history. It may sound overly simple but being grateful for what you DO have is so much healthier than to think of what you may NOT have. Now, you have a wife that doesn't have to fear her work situation anymore...and while you may not have the money you're used to having you still "have" so much more than so many other people. I am, ashamed to say it but will, a very selfish person inside. I see what others around me have and I think to myself, "I wish I had that", "I wish I didn't have such a shitty bank account" " I wish I could just .... blah blah blah" the list goes on. It's really easy for me to get into that mindset and become a very bitter, resentful, ugly human...what keeps me from going there (or going there too far) is a step back into reality. I know a lot of people who have "much" yet are unhappy, stressed, feeling lost. My house is a happy (mostly) place. My marriage is a happy marriage (mostly). My children are healthy, able to live their lives proudly and be good human beings. It was not finances that enabled that. Perhaps it sounds silly to some, but gratefulness is the biggest help for me to not get stressed out over financial situation...You have your health, you have each other, you have much... However you choose to deal with stress I hope things get better for you. I'm sure you'll get much good advice from here and hopefullly something will be what it is you need to hear.