Why Bad Economic Times Could Be Bad For Your Health

by DavalosMcCormack on December 16, 2008

For a lot of people things are pretty tough right now. With an economy that sucks as badly as this one (I knew taking economics at university would one day help me come up with descriptive phrases) many people are worried about their jobs, their mortgage, paying the bills.

Two new studies show that when people become so focused on their fiscal health, they often lose sight of their physical health.

The first study, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that people who are experiencing psychological distress, such as becoming fearful of losing their job or their home, often slip into poor health habits.

In other words, becoming overly stressed or even depressed pushes them down a path of poor health choices. People drink more, smoke more, eat a less balanced diet, are less likely to exercise or do any of the other activities that typically are considered part of a healthy lifestyle.

Add all those up and they pose a pretty sizable rise in risk of heart disease, high blood pressure or some other form of cardiovascular problem.

The second new study shows that once you set down along that path it may be difficult for many people to find a way out.

The study, from North Carolina State University, found that increased blood pressure in older adults is linked to cognitive problems, namely it interferes with their ability to think clearly and make good, balanced decisions.

Taken together the studies show that our external circumstances can have an enormous influence on our internal circumstances, both physical and emotional.

The loss of a job, or just fear of losing a job, can put you into a depressive spiral that is hard to break out of. It increases your risk of bad health behaviours, which in turn increases your risk of cloudy judgment which makes it harder to do the things that would improve your health.

At a time when we are most in need of healthy outlets to deal with stress we are most likely to turn away from the best sources of that, exercise, meditation and quieting of the mind.

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