When the world around us is filled with stress, Elizabeth Kiss believes that there is one constant on how to deal with the uncertainty: You.
“If you remember that you are the same person as you were before the financial stress began, regrouping and adapting will be easier,” said Kiss, a family resource management specialist with K-State Research and Extension.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most glaring, current example of stress, causing a strain on routine ways of living and on individual and family finances. In such times, Kiss notes that it’s important to find ways to maintain a sense of control.
“Concentrate your efforts on keeping your attitude, your family and your body as strong as possible,” she said.
Kiss recently authored a publication – titled When Your Income Drops: Coping with Stress — to help people take a common-sense approach to dealing with financial challenges. Among her recommendations:
• Don’t blame yourself. It may take a conscious effort, but it’s important to see yourself as valuable regardless of external circumstances.
• Find support. Friends and family are going through similar circumstances. Rely on each other for getting through the tough times.
• Don’t keep anxiety and anger bottled up. Talk about your problems with a spouse, other family members or a friend. “Others can help if you will let them,” Kiss said.
• Take one thing at a time. Break seemingly insurmountable tasks into smaller pieces that are possible to accomplish.
• Keep yourself occupied. Donate time to a worthy cause, if possible. Don’t sit around worrying about your troubles.
• Learn to relax. Just a few minutes of soothing music or curling up with a book can help to reduce stress.
• Take care of your health. Maintain a nutritious diet. Cut down on alcohol, cigarettes or other substances. Exercise regularly.
• Accept your situation. “Remember that you can have some control over the unwanted side effects,” Kiss said. “Discuss situations or trouble spots that you or your family find particularly distressing, and work together to reduce the causes of stress.”
When Your Income Drops: Coping with Stress also outlines ways to recognize stress, tips for managing stress, and knowing when and where to get help. In Kansas, professional help is available from numerous community agencies and protective services.
Kiss added that the United Way supports 211, a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A couple Kansas organizations that focus on situations specific to farmers include Kansas Ag Stress Resources and the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services.
Kiss’ publication is available online through the K-State Research and Extension bookstore.