People are happier in stable economic environments than in down periods. And as a result of experiencing the newly unfolding recession, many of us are now a bunch of really unhappy campers.
Happiness measures go up and down with business cycles. People’s moods decline when concerns arise about job security and the direction of the economy.
Researches usually offer more complicated insides than a simple correlation between money and happiness. Most show that our happiness may depend more on our relative wealth than on any absolute scale. Researchers have also found that while richer countries are happier than poorer ones, they don’t necessarily get happier over time as they accumulate more wealth. (One possible reason is that expectations rise with incomes.) And while researchers once believed that after our basic needs are met, money matters less, they have now found it appears to continue adding to happiness. Excess materialism, on the other hand, can make us unhappy. So both extremes can be emotionally taxing.
Just how money affects happiness is under debate. Has the recession made us anxious over the prospect of losing our jobs, or are we down about the losses in our savings? What’s really bringing us down?
A simple way of thinking about an economic downturn is that we can buy less stuff. However, is not only that. Work has a very central role in our lives. When people are without work, they are much less happy, and not just because they can buy fewer gadgets but because they value it for its own sake.
Those who find themselves down on their luck can call on the strategies developed by happiness professionals. Here are five ways to help you stay happy in recession:
Take care of yourself: Get enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition. The first step is to take care of your own body by getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Watch your weight and skin color!
Become more charitable. If you’re feeling impoverished . . . a way to counteract that feeling is to do something generous. It’s a way of convincing yourself that you have something to give. Signing up to be an organ donor or giving blood are easy options. People also feel happier amid an atmosphere of growth. If your salary is frozen, then learning Photoshop or building a garden can generate a feeling of personal growth.
Spend more time and some money on enjoyable activities, from traveling to cooking to studying a new skill. Research shows that people are at their most satisfied when they feel engaged and challenged.
Invest in relationships. Investing in relationships is another positive influence on happiness levels. Buying a metro ticket to visit a friend or putting a little money into a “romantic weekend away with hubby” fund can be valuable investments in your well-being.
Focus on what you’re grateful for. Helpful could be also cultivating a sense of appreciation through something like a gratitude journal, where you write down three to five things for which you are thankful. If you have lost your job, think of other dreams that have come true, such as living in the city you want or marrying the right partner. It’s not trivializing what’s happening but trying not to focus on it all the time.
Love is still free of charge and during recession it is highly cherished, so don’t hesitate to fall in love.