11/23/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Rubbernecking the Economy

eIt's everywhere we turn these days--the bad news about the economy. It's one more fear piled on top of all the other fears festering in our guts.
Here comes another breaking news alert: the stock market is down, no, now it's up, no, down. The foreign markets are down, governments are taking over banks, credit is impossible to come by, unemployment is growing, retailers are worried about a very unmerry holiday season. High school kids and their parents don't have a clue about how to pay for college. Boomers are watching their retirement accounts dwindle. Will Medicare and Social Security disappear?
Ever since 9/11, we have been living with increased anxiety and stress. Orange alerts and increased airport security have made traveling a harrowing experience. We warily watch those who don't look like white bread. Homeland Security invades our lives and shreds the Constitution. Kids pack guns rather than lunchboxes to school. Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people between the ages of 15 and 24. And our once booming economy has hit a long downward slope.
We have lost many of the things that once upon a time gave us a sense of peace and security. Family is scattered, not only around the country, but around the world. Kids can't walk over to Grandma's for a cup of tea and some friendly advice or to Uncle Joe's for help fixing that skateboard. Instead, we're sitting in front of computers, emailing our loved ones when we have a moment to spare in our hectic lives.
We've lost contact with the earth. How many of us are in touch with the best support system of all--Mother Nature? Being up in our heads so much of the time with no solid base to stand upon securely makes us far more vulnerable to anxiety. Spend time in the sun, time walking on the earth, and time with animals, a proven way to reduce stress and keep us grounded.
Our desire is keep up with the bad news of the day is a natural human response to rubberneck that car accident. But don't watch the news in bed before going to sleep! Sleep is the best anti-anxiety drug, and watching bad news (and when does good news ever make the evening news?) before going to sleep will have you reaching for Ambien rather than allowing your body to restore itself naturally. How many of us get the seven to nine hours of deep natural sleep we actually need to stay sane and healthy?
Really, the world won't collapse if you don't watch television or stare at a computer screen for at least an hour before going to bed. Take a bath, listen to soothing music, read a little something spiritual, or write a few notes about how you really feel. Try going to bed early enough so you don't need an alarm clock to wake up. You'll be surprised at how your anxiety level decreases and you wake to a happier and healthier day--no matter what the news.