During economic hard times, stay active to avoid depression

Monday, May 5, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:31 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Most of my acquaintances are downright disgusted with the way our government has conducted the country’s business up to this point in the 21st century. Many are angry, and some are bitter. The ones who seem pretty indifferent to the situation are the ones who have plenty of money and excellent health insurance.

You can tell, obviously, by my declaration that I don’t know any television anchors, because the majority of them seem astounded that people should feel this way. In fact, some of them act as if being upset about the way the country is run is to commit an act of treason. They imply that it’s being un-American. I guess the old America — love it or leave it — attitude is still in play.

Since they cannot better themselves financially, what most of the people I know are in search of is spiritual nourishment to help them deal with their circumstances. They’re looking for some kind of good news that will supply the motivation they need to keep plugging away. In that regard, now is the time for family and friends to nurture one another. If you don’t have time to visit, call often or send inspirational cards. I try to make sure all my people have uplifting reading material to encourage them.

During these trying days, we need to pay close attention to those we love. Long periods of depression are not good, but unfortunately, when people you care about are facing serious illnesses, foreclosures or bankruptcies, it’s difficult not to be depressed. The fact that the country is in a mess makes it even harder to bear personal hardships. For too many people, there seems to be no place to go for relief.

Sometimes, just helping people find positive ways to help work out of these down periods can make a lot of difference. Developing the habit of taking long walks is not only good exercise but it doesn’t cost anything. Gardeners can plan a good day for plant and flower exchanges in their neighborhoods. A friend and I are working diligently on holding a yard sale later in the summer. Those who have too many empty hours on their hands can volunteer at a nearby hospital or nursing home. The main thing is to find something else to focus on outside of one’s personal challenges.

Some people are planning to spend their time in the traditional manner of our foreparents. They are planning to use the upcoming months to prepare for the winter ahead. An artist friend is planning to close her studio during July and August and spend time canning and freezing food. Another friend is mowing lawns and helping people with their gardening chores in order to earn extra money for gas. Others are just sharing money-saving tips to help each other cut down on expenses.

Personally, I have collected several books over the years filled with ideas on how to save money on household cleaning products. For instance, I’ve been cleaning my brass tabletops and figurines with Worcestershire sauce for years. And, of course, you can’t beat white vinegar and baking soda for sprucing up a lot of things. And these days, I’m always in the market for information on how to save money at the supermarket.

I don’t think we can count on any improvements in the next few months. The economists are predicting that gas prices will continue to soar, and we’ve all borne witness to that fact. Food prices will climb steadily. The best we can do is plan wisely and hope for the best.

First things first, we need to take care of ourselves. In bad times, it’s easy to fall into despair. Keeping mentally and physically fit is important whatever the circumstances.

Be good to yourself, your family, your friends and neighbors. Remember the old saying, “every little bit helps.” It really does.

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