Income Loss, Financial Stress, and COVID-19: How to Cope
In an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, businesses across the country are closing their doors. In many states, emergency restrictions now prohibit dining in at restaurants and bars, as well as any large gatherings. Other states and counties have also passed regulations temporarily closing any businesses not essential to life and ordering residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
These temporary laws are meant to protect lives by “flattening the curve” of COVID-19. Though these measures may seem drastic, they’re necessary to keep already-overburdened hospitals from being completely overwhelmed with new patients.
In the meantime, that leaves untold Americans without jobs. Economists predict millions of Americans will be jobless by April. Certain essential professions, including grocery and delivery workers and health care workers, may see some growth. But as confirmed COVID-19 cases increase and more states continue to close non-essential businesses, you may also face a financial impact if your workplace or small business closes and you can’t telecommute. depression
MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH EFFECTS OF LOSING INCOME
If you’ve already lost your job or believe you may in the near future, you may suddenly be facing more stress than you ever imagined, especially if you have a family to care for and/or your partner has also lost work.
You might be avidly following news of potential stimulus checks, hoping your state government will eventually do more to provide relief. At the same time, you might feel terrified of what will happen to you, your home, and your family if the pandemic continues to spread and prevent you from working. Much of America is in the same position. While that may bolster your compassion, it likely does nothing to lessen your personal stress.
While you may worry about contracting the virus, worries about your financial situation and immediate future may compound the situation. Financial worries, like most other sources of stress, can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional health. You might notice:
Increased irritability or a short temper
Feelings of nervousness or worry
Mood swings, including anger and sadness
Persistent low mood
Appetite changes and stomach issues
Muscle tension or pain
Fatigue, sleeplessness, or both
In time, these symptoms can worsen and eventually contribute to more persistent anxiety or depression. You might also have thoughts of hopelessness or suicide.
FINANCIAL STRESS AND COVID-19: COPING TIPS
It’s completely all right, and normal, and healthy, to mourn your losses. A global pandemic is frightening and upsetting enough without it upending your entire life. You may feel grief, fear, and any number of other emotions. Don’t try to bottle up these feelings or block them by telling yourself “Others have it worse.” That’s true, but you matter, too.
Part of acceptance involves acknowledging your situation, and your feelings about it. Then you can take actionable steps toward improvement, when those steps become possible.
Focus on what you can control
You may not have any power over a virus or the economy, but you can work to manage your reaction to it.
Panic and increased fear are common responses, and it’s understandable to experience these emotions. But try to avoid letting despairing thoughts trap you in a cycle of distress. It’s true you don’t know what will happen—no one does. But it’s more helpful to manage each day as it comes.