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Photo by: FreaksAnon

It’s easy to get off track with healthy eating and exercise goals, just like it’s easy to lose sight of personal finance goals. I’ve been feeling stressed out and unfocused lately, and it’s not just because of the looming recession. I haven’t made a healthy diet and regular exercise the priority I’d like it to be.

The result is that I’ve become a less productive employee and a generally less present partner and friend. I believe that everything is related: our relationships to our mental and physical health and money matters. This is especially true when looking at how an unstable economy can have a profound affect on our health.

On Tuesday, Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art was just on Here and Now discussing the relationship between a recession and mental health. He says the suicide rate is so much related to a recession that its peaks can be seen as a way to foresee a recession.

The Irish Times also asked if ill health in the economy can make us unwell. Its article said:

Several UK studies from the 1970s and 1980s show the unemployed tend to have much poorer health than those in work. The British Regional Heart Study reported high death rates among unemployed men, while the OPCS longitudinal study found especially high levels of lung cancer, suicide, accidents and heart disease among the unemployed.

USA Today columnist Mark Siegel urged readers “don’t let the economy kill you”:

Though stress in society at large is impossible to measure, we’re already seeing anecdotal evidence suggesting that angst is spreading. In New York, calls to the Hopeline network for people with depression or suicidal thoughts increased 75% in the 11 months ending in July. And according to United Health Group, the largest U.S. health insurer, hospital admissions for psychiatric services are up 10% this year over last year. Medical illness is sure to follow.

Harvey Brenner, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, projects that an increase of 1 percentage point in the nation’s unemployment rate could cause as many as 47,000 more deaths —including 1,200 more suicides and 26,000 additional heart attacks —over the ensuing two years.

These articles just confirmed the need to live a healthier life to combat this nasty economic situation. My half an hour walks to and from work have been a good start, but I need more activity to help me with my focus and relaxation. I’m taking Seigel’s advice and start practicing yoga and meditation. In times like these, it’s easy to be bogged down by what we have less of, or don’t have at all. But to combat the stress and improve overall health, it’s best to nurture and appreciate the things we have: health, partners, friends and family.


Photo by: Derek Farr

If you’ve picked up a newspaper, turned on the radio or television, you’ve heard the R word: recession. But what does it mean and how does it affect the average person? Pete returns with what I hope is a bi-weekly blog entry. Today, it’s all about recession.

What is a recession?

A recession is when the gross domestic product of a country or region shrinks for two consecutive quarters. Since the idea of this is to put fancy economic terms into words normal people can understand, let me try that again…

The Gross Domestic Product (or GDP) of a country is the total value of all the goods and services produced within the country. If you add up the economic value of every single manufactured item and service sold (a ridiculously huge concept to think about) you get the country’s GDP. Canada’s GDP in 2006, for example, was $1.178 trillion — that’s the total value of every Tim Hortons coffee, dollar-store umbrella, sky-diving lesson and grocery bill sold during the whole year. In simple terms, if that number gets bigger, the economy is expanding. If that number gets smaller, the economy is contracting.

In finance, years are divided into quarters — periods of three months. So by a literal definition, a country is in recession when its economy shrinks for six consecutive months. Strictly speaking, that hasn’t happened yet in Canada or the U.S.A. But my hunch is we’re pretty damn close.
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