SURVEY: How soon do you expect the economy to return to normal (i.e. similar to before the pandemic)?

Excerpted from Time, June 18, 2020

Even for those people whose wallets have not been directly impacted, who are able to work from home and retain their same income, the anxiety can be just as present. “There’s a level of uncertainty now, because we don’t know where the economy is headed,” says Danetha Doe, personal finance expert. “Even though they’re in a position where everything is OK on paper, they don’t feel financially secure.”

Financial anxiety isn’t an isolated condition; increased feelings of stress and anxiety can impact your overall physical and mental health and well-being.

“Stress and anxiety in our financial lives has a direct impact on our physical and mental health,” Doe says. “When we look at how any kind of anxiety and stress impacts the body, it can lead to things like heart disease, inability to sleep, and lowered immunity, which during a pandemic is incredibly harmful.”

The effects can be just as dangerous, but anxiety stemming from financial issues directly can also present a more tangible path to resolution in some cases, because money has such a visible impact on our decisions and goals.

And while lender assistance and relief programs have provided help in the short term, questions about long-term, sustainable solutions remain.

“There are measures which are enabling people to hold it together now, but people in those situations are desperately worried about what’s going to happen in the future: when unemployment runs out, when evictions start again, when the lights are going to get shut off,” says Annie Harper, an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine who researches the relationship between financial health and mental health.

“Even if that’s not a worry today, the anxiety about that happening next month or the month after is just as profound as for someone who doesn’t have money now. This uncertainty around what will happen with those relief measures is very significant and causing lots of anxiety.”

Beginning the Recovery Process

The economy, and its workers, will take time to bounce back from the economic recession caused by the coronavirus, which officially began in February. But many economists are optimistic with the beginnings of recovery across the country as businesses reopen and economic activity returns, even predicting we could already be moving into stages of economic expansion.

But the sectors of the economy that were hit the hardest, such as entertainment and travel, are expected to recover much more slowly. “Those parts of the economy will be challenged until people feel really safe again,” Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” in May.

“For everyone, it’s important to have that awareness of what you can control and what you cannot control. Take the steps to do things that are under one’s control and then realize there’s many factors that aren’t under our control. Nobody really knows the future course of this virus and when things will feel more normal again and when the economy will feel as though it’s recovered significantly.

Moving Forward

This moment in time and the uncertainty it brings is a turning point, both personally and systemically, experts say.

“There’s some in the financial therapy realm who talk about financial flash points. That is something related to money that happens to us and really sticks with us, affecting us for years to come. I think this is going to be a financial flash point for many people, especially the ones who have had the trauma of suddenly losing their job and feeling very insecure.

How do we cope? With regularly practicing self-care and other healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise, social interactions, and other things that you find enjoyable, to build resilience to face lasting uncertainties. You should also consider talking to your doctor if your anxiety becomes debilitating.

We are certainly still in this, but we are all feeling it , albeit at different levels. Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

The reverberations to our society and our economy are going to be felt for a long time. We should be gentle with ourselves in terms of holding space to just be in the discomfort of not knowing, which is really hard for a lot of us to do.


How about you? When do you think the US will return to our previous normal? Or do you think it’s time to create a new normal? I’d love to know your thoughts! Koorosh

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