Money and Your Health

How to Survive a Bad Economy

Don’t let the recession hurt your health (or your bottom line).


recession
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1. Make your $$ work hard
Women who see their life savings dwindling are understandably “scared, angry, and confused,” says financial expert Suze Orman, author of Suze Ormans 2009 Action Plan. But “fix-it-now” decisions can put long-term financial security in danger. Her advice: “Resist the temptation to stop investing in stocks. If you have time on your side—and that means at least 10 years, preferably longer, before you need the money—keep a large portion of your retirement money in stocks.” Why? Once you move your money out of stocks, you give up any chance to recoup your losses, Orman says. Sure, a safe and stable fund may inch along with a 3 to 4% gain a year, she says, “but chances are thats not enough to help you reach your long-term investment goals.”

2. Hang with happy people
A new Harvard study shows that happiness is contagious, spreading from one person to nearby family members, neighbors, and friends. “One happy person can increase the happiness of others she comes into contact with by 8 to 34%—and the effect can last up to a year,” says Healths life coach M.J. Ryan.

3. Get paid to be healthy
If you need a carrot dangling in front of you to get you moving, theres good news: Many companies are offering incentives for healthy behavior. Even in a recession, you can get paid as much as $200 to $300 a shot for doing whats good for you, from taking a weight-management or stop-smoking course to getting your heart attack risks appraised. At companies like Aetna, employees can earn more than $1,200 a year for participating in health-and-fitness activities and programs. Ask your human resources department what theyll pay you to get fit or stay well.

4. Be good to yourself
Financial uncertainty takes a toll on your health, says Andrew Weil, MD, director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. In fact, a recent study following healthy unemployed people found that 80 percent were diagnosed with a new health problem within 18 months of being laid off. The key to staying well in bad times? “Get enough rest, sleep, and physical activity, and have fun,” Dr. Weil says. He also recommends eating an anti-inflammatory diet that includes fish oil (2 to 3 grams a day), taking a good multivitamin or multi­mineral, and doing deep-breathing exercises.
Last Updated: August 20, 2009

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