It can be difficult to feel hopeful during a worldwide economic meltdown. Give these mood-lifters a try.
Step 1: Take heart that the recession will soon be over, if history is any indicator. The average length of the 10 recessions since World War II is only 10.4 months.
Step 2: Count your blessings. One study found people who keep a gratitude journal – a diary of what they're thankful for – are happier than those who don't.
TIP: Keep your situation in perspective. Look around and you'll probably find someone worse off than you.
Step 3: Become a volunteer. The fastest way to feel better about your situation is to help someone else. That's not just a platitude: It's been proven in studies. Plus, if you're out of work, volunteerism can lead to a paying job.
Step 4: If you're beating yourself up over losing money in the stock market or buying a home you couldn't afford, take comfort in knowing that you're not alone.
Step 5: If you've been lucky enough to hang on to your home, but are depressed over how much its value has decreased, learn some do-it-yourself home improvements that will increase its worth.
TIP: The remodeling projects that add the most value to a home include a kitchen upgrade, new siding, bathroom remodeling, and adding a bathroom.
Step 6: Find low cost ways to replace the treats you've had to give up. You don't have to be less social just because you have less money.
Step 7: If your depression stems from financial problems, make a commitment to get out of debt and then start a savings plan, even if it's just $10 taken out of your weekly paycheck. You'll feel better day-to-day with the security of a nest egg.
Step 8: If you're seriously depressed – you're having trouble eating, sleeping, or concentrating – ask a health-care provider about mental-health counseling.
FACT: Since World War II, the longest recessions have lasted 16 months, from late 1973 to early 1975, and from mid 1981 to late 1982.