So the economy in Alberta, Canada sucks right now. People are being laid off at a rapid pace and family budgets are getting tighter and tighter as the cost of everyday things keeps going up. This situation causes stress. Stress causes other mental health issues and even relationship breakdowns as we stop talking about the things that are troubling us because, well, if we don’t talk about them they don’t exist. Ya right (insert exceptionally sarcastic tone here).
Here are some strategies to help you cope, combat, survive… with your relationships intact during challenging economic times.
1. Have some fun.
Having fun doesn’t always have to cost money. Doing things together can be exceptionally inexpensive if you plan ahead. There are many events that happen in whatever location you are in that are free to attend. You just have to figure out how to get there.
Pack a picnic lunch instead of buying food. Picnics can be fun regardless of where you are. You can even have a picnic in your own living room. And to make it even more fun (If you don’t have kids), turn the lights down and make it a different kind of picnic…wink, wink.
Create at home fun. Just because you can’t go out to dinner, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a romantic dinner at home with just a new table cloth, some candles and the right mood music. You can even do this with kids. Break out the special plates, cups and napkins to make the everyday something a little more special.
2. Continue to connect with friends
This can be hard, especially when you have friends who are in a different economic situation from yourself. However, isolation isn’t the solution to economic challenges and can result in depression and other mental health issues. You are likely not the only one of your friends experiencing hard times. Share your experiences, where you found something fun to do that was inexpensive. Plan to do things together to car pool to save on gas, etc.
There are many different ways your network of friends can help when things aren’t looking so hot from your cheque book’s perspective. Good friends will help you out and not expect anything in return except that you return the favor should your situations ever be reversed. I know this is how I feel about my friends. I know this is hard, no one wants to feel like they owe someone else something. Something freely offered doesn’t always mean it needs to be paid back.
Accepting help doesn’t mean you are weak or can’t do things for yourself. If you have a friend who is not facing what you are maybe they just want to make you feel better by helping you out with something for no other reason than it makes them feel good to do something nice, they are doing it because they want to not because they have to.
3. Remember economic challenges don’t always last forever.
While it may feel like the end of the world and you don’t know how you will make ends meet, these types of challenges, for most of us, don’t last forever. New jobs are found, new ways to provide for your family emerge and things often change. While the change might be slow and you may think there is no end the the challenges it will change.
4. Look for the silver lining, the opportunity.
Finding the positives in any situation regardless of how negative it may feel will help put things in perspective. The silver lining is usually accompanied by an opportunity. Try to find it. Don’t dwell too long on all the bad or you may miss out on something FABULOUS. I know it’s hard, but fabulous things are everywhere and we miss them on a daily basis, even when we aren’t struggling financially.
Maybe it’s time to learn a new skill(s) or even to completely change your career path. Is the universe telling you to move on or to look at things differently?
5. Remember to talk to each other.
Not snarling, barking or yelling. But talking about the troubles. Talk about how you are going to manage everything that you have before and figure out where you can cut back. This needs to be a mutual decision. If you are used to going out for dinner every other day, now maybe it can only happen every other week. Or that coffee you buy everyday is now made at home instead.
When you lay out the issue, as difficult as it can be, often you find unknown solutions or it isn’t quite as horrible as it seems. Yes there are some situations that are just as horrible as they sound, but are easier to handle when you have someone else who knows about them, and can help find solutions.
Just because you have found yourself in a difficult situation financially doesn’t mean the world is going to end. It may look like it from time to time, but things will get better and if you keep connected in your relationship you will come out stronger on the other side. Communication is key, actively listening to each other and what is causing your anxiety (not trying to fix the problem as we already know what the solution is) will help you find a way to support each other through the hard times.
And guess what…even those not facing financial difficulties have challenges in their relationships, the challenges are just different.
Now go – hug, kiss, and love each other! Be the light for each other!