People are afraid of losing their homes, also afraid of losing their jobs, and worried about paying for their children’s education and just having the basic essentials they need to survive; but we know all of that leads to stress. It impacts us physically as well as mentally.
Now, we’ve been talking for most of this hour about how financially troubled this country is right now. As we discussed with Secretary Donovan, people are afraid of losing their homes, also afraid of losing their jobs, and worried about paying for their children’s education and just having the basic essentials they need to survive; but we know all of that leads to stress. It impacts us physically as well as mentally.
So, how do we keep it all together? Well, life coaches Jackie Hood-Martin, as well as Valerie Burton, recently talked with me about strategies for coping. Here’s what they had to say.
MR. MARTIN: [A] lot of people [are] having major drama these days when it comes to not having a job, the stress, looking for a job; and so, you know, what has it been like coaching folks who’ve been going through a tumultuous time?
MS. VALERIE BURTON: Well, I think a lot of people are really getting to the core of what’s really important, so I think, for a lot of people, it’s really se- — it’s set them back in a way, but a lot of people are learning from it, and, “How do I really figure out what matters most?” And I think that’s really huge. It’s a big part of being able to be resilient, to say, “You know what? What do I need to do to be able to navigate this?” but also, sometimes you cut back, and you realize you don’t need as much as you thought you needed in the first place.
MS. JACKIE HOOD-MARTIN: I agree. We find ourselves in a time now when we’re asking ourselves the c- — the critical questions: what matters most? What’s most important? How do I downsize my lifestyle? What do I need to do in order to make ends meet? And sometimes it means being creative, going back to something that was your hobby or, as we would often say, that thing that you like to do, but it’s not really the main thing that makes money. So, sometimes people find that being creative and creating jobs and self-employment opportunities out of what they believe is their passion now.
MR. MARTIN: Well, the struggle for a lot of people is that, “Look, I’m trying to do what’s right; but, look, money is tight. I[‘ve] got kids who are in school, and I’m trying to sit here” – “and I’m dealing with stress in a relationship.” And so that’s also a huge issue – the stress on marriages in this difficult time. We see divorce is skyrocketing. And so advice when it comes to maintaining a strong relationship when you’re faced with a difficult economy.
MS. BURTON: Yes, so recognizing the people that you love are a part of that support system, and you don’t want to turn on each other when you really need to be able to lean on each other. I think that’s really important.
MS. HOOD-MARTIN: Seeing also with that in mind, you have communication. Communication is a very big part of “where do we go now?” “What do I understand about the situation that we’re facing?” and taking the time to really articulate how can we move in a different direction with our lives as a family unit. And spouses – you know, the same things that got you where you are in the situation of owning too many homes, owning too many cars, taking too many vacations – you do have to scale back, but to communicate about it, because how can you take something away from me that we’ve worked so hard to get; but at the same time, knowing when to say “enough is enough.”
MR. MARTIN: Last question: children. A lot of parents, the last thing they want to do is have to tell their kids “no,” but you have to do that. We’re, of course, in this season. Halloween’s coming up. Thanksgiving comings [sic] up. Christmas is coming up, and people are be- — begin to say, “Man, I wish I can do more.” And so what do they tell a kid? Say, “Look, times are tough. I can’t give you want you want.”
MS. BURTON: Yep.
MR. MARTIN: What do they say?
MS. BURTON: You know what? That’s hard for a parent, but I think it’s also a learning opportunity. And sometimes parents protect their kids and shelter them too much, and so it’s not that you have to tell them everything that’s going on, but if the reality is you can’t afford to buy all those toys, or you need to downsize –
MR. MARTIN: So, be honest with –
MS. BURTON: — let the kids –
MR. MARTIN: — what’s going on.
MS. BURTON: — be a part of that, because there’s a lesson for them to learn –
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MS. BURTON: — that “we can make it through this, but everybody has to scale back a little bit” – and that includes the kids.
MR. MARTIN: All right.
MS. HOOD-MARTIN: Yep, I agree. You get to a place with your kids where you’re saying, “How many activities are you in after school?” “How many are you with in the weekend, and what amount of money is that coming out of our budget?”
MS. BURTON: It’s a lot. [Chuckles.]
MS. HOOD-MARTIN: And with no ability to replace those dollars, you say, “Make a decision, children. We have to talk about it, make some s-“ – “conscientious decisions and choices and say, ‘Okay, well, I’ll cut gymnastics, and I’ll cut ballet, but I really like piano, and that’s what I want to do.’ ‘I won’t do soccer or baseball. Let me just continue with football.’” And so that way, you give the children an opportunity to say, “How can we contribute to the family?” –
MS. BURTON: Yep.
MS. HOOD-MARTIN: — by taking some things off the table; whereas, taking everything away, and the whole household is miserable.
MR. MARTIN: So, thanks to my wife Jackie, as well as my good friend Valerie Burton for their insight and motivation, and be sure to pick up their books as well.
Coming up next, if the Holocaust victim Anne Frank and the civil rights martyr Emmett Till*had a conversation, what would they talk about? A new, one-act play explores just that, so stay with us.