Causes: While the economic forecast for the country as a whole is cautiously not pessimistic, local budgets are still tight. To save money, some cities have cut back on trash pickup and turned off street lamps. Store racks are sparser and "For Sale" signs seem as enduring as the front-yard elm trees. These indicators may not seem significant on their own, says Nancy Molitor, PhD, a clinical psychologist near Chicago, but if you're already worrying about the housing market or your job security, signs of a less-than-thriving community could make you feel that things are only getting worse.
Treatment: Molitor helped the American Psychological Association write strategies for managing stress back in 2008. For this chronic form of anxiety, she says, it's important to avoid feeling helpless. Step one: Figure out what—specifically—has changed to make you feel that life isn't what it once was. Then attack one of the issues. The next time you're out for a walk, bring a plastic bag and pick up cans and bottles on the side of the road. When you're taking care of your garden, trim the overgrown weeds that are making the foreclosed home next door look unkempt. This will give you a sense of control, says Molitor, and will also restore a bit of that luster you've been missing.
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