Glee, Twilight, Harry Potter and Stress Management

This week I have been talking about the chronic economic stress many of us have been under for the past 3+ years. Yesterday I wrote about the importance of taking action – actually doing something – as an essential part of maintaining mental health through tough times.  Today, I have another tip: maintain a rich fantasy life.  This may seem a little silly on the surface, but as you look around you will notice that many of us are already doing it.  Ever wonder why this story took the world by storm:

Image: Warner Bros Pictures

What about this one?

Image: Stephenie Meyer

It’s not just that J.K. Rowling is a brilliant storyteller, or that Edward Cullen is super-dreamy, it’s also that escaping our individual realities – whatever they may be – is a great way to manage stress.  And thanks to the internet, many of us have almost constant, immediate access to whichever fantasies make us forget the woes of the day.

Now, I’m not suggesting we should duck our responsibilities and spend our days obsessing over the new Twilight movie:

or memorizing the moves of a certain Glee star:

But what I am suggesting is that a little escapism can be good for the mind and body – particularly when the stressors in life become hard to bear.

So whether it’s:


Image: Magic the Gathering

Let your imagination run wild and know that it’s time well spent.

Managing Chronic Economic Stress

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the difference between acute and chronic economic stress.  I concluded that most of us are squarely in the “chronic stress” category when it comes to our financial lives.

One of the things that I mentioned were the dangers of feeling hopeless and helpless in terms of doing anything to change one’s circumstances.  It makes sense then, that Tip #1 for managing chronic economic stress is to DO SOMETHING.  Or at the very least, hitch yourself to someone else who is doing something.  Working on a political campaign you believe in, volunteering for an organization helping people even more hard hit than you, taking a class on managing personal finance – doing something always feels better than doing nothing. Not only that, it can help you maintain your mental health by warding off those hopeless/helpless feelings.

Need a jumpstart?  Check out Starbucks’ new initiative (which starts today, how perfect is that?):

Starbucks is donating five million dollars to seed a fund at the Opportunity Finance Network, which in turn will provide capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide loans to underserved community businesses, including: small business loans, community center financing, housing project financing and microfinance.


Stay tuned for more tips as the week goes on.