In today’s economy, stress caused by financial hardship may affect one's health negatively: insomnia, poor diet, lethargy, even depression can strike.
If you’re facing this situation, due to a recent layoff or other life event that blindsided you, you might be identifying with Edgar Allen’s Poe’s narrator in his story, The Pit and the Pendulum.
In the tale, the reader learns that the narrator is strapped to a table underneath a pendulum that swings. The pendulum has a blade and as it slowly descends toward the narrator’s heart, you can sense his fear, helplessness, and emotional turmoil. At the very last second, he is able to break free from the strap and escape the pendulum’s swing, but he isn’t out of the woods yet.
There are more challenges for the narrator, trapped in his dark prison. The prison walls heat up and begin to close in on him. The reader predicts the narrator will surely fall and meet with death. Then, suddenly, a mysterious person latches onto him and prevents his fall. There is a happy ending after all.
Like the narrator in Poe’s story, if you've lost a job and are struggling to find work it can feel like you’re trapped in a prison. Waiting for the pendulum to swing in your favor takes perseverance and it’s easy to become discouraged and disheartened. The process of waiting to find employment may be slow and painful.
So how do people stop their prison walls from closing in?
According to the experts, there are things you can do to combat stress during challenging life situations. Not every stress-buster will work for every person, but the list provides some excellent strategies that might help someone who is feeling overwhelmed by day-to-day stress.
Some ideas to cope include:
1. Spend more time outdoors—sunlight is good for you!
Sally Augustin, Ph.D, is a practicing environmental psychologist who studies person-centered design and sensory science. In her article, Psychological Return on Investment – Daylight and Wood, she reports:
“From a psychological perspective, anything you can do to get more daylight into a space is a good investment. If that daylight comes with a nature view, so much the better, but even if it doesn't, make sure to let the sun stream in. It will boost your mood and your mental performance. Sunlight is a great stress buster.”