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Coping With Economic Uncertainty: Ask Noah

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Q: In the face of a wobbly economic recovery, when unemployment remains high, and the average worker's spirits remain low, it's clear that the stock market's foundation appears to be less than solid.

From a "sanity" perspective how does one cope with this constant flow of uncertainty and insecurity?

A: Collective anxiety and increased tension go hand in hand with uncertainty. When individuals experience stress, they can slip into patterns of irrational behavior or thinking, rapid mood swings and highly unpredictable feelings.

This produces a lack of focus and, ultimately, extremely weakened decision making. We begin to rely on others around us to inform us of how we "should" live and how we "should" act.

As a result, we make mistakes everywhere: poor business calculations, unwise relationship decisions, and abuse or neglect of our bodies.

So the battle becomes accepting uncertainty and never allowing it to stop you from being productive.

Here are the tips:
  1. In an insane world, surround yourself with as many sane people as possible.
    Pick friends and partners who do not feed into the chaos but calm the nerves, either through distraction or an ear that actually hears. Create networks of people with "no problem" attitudes who don't view everything as a catastrophe and who work to promote balance in their own lives. Steer clear from those who see a problem and turn it into a catastrophe.
  2. See things how they actually are, not in black and white.
    All-or-nothing thinkers are predisposed to anxiety. Dichotomous thought patterns influence the individual negatively; any news, emotion, action, or person is misconstrued as either all good or all bad.
    Clarity comes from seeing the ever-changing continuum of life. Learning to evaluate both your relationships and environments realistically (not in extremes!) is essential to not feeling on edge all of the time.
  3. Take it easy on yourself.
    Quit any negative "self talk." Be kind to yourself by not judging every single feeling or thought. We all react differently to an unemployment rate decrease or increase, the continuation or ending of a relationship and our net worth. Some of the most stressed guys I have treated have had the fattest wallets! Why the stress? It's simple really. They live in a constant state of "fear of loss."
  4. Use healthy diet and exercise as preventive tools.
    People battle uncertainty by looking for what they can actually control. We can take advantage of this natural desire by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
    Being mindful of healthy food choices helps to keep your mind clear and focused. Physical exercise can aid in the release of stressors, which if not discarded, may lead us into making those poor financial and interpersonal choices we would make under mental duress.
    By the same token, abusing drugs and alcohol will only promote those feelings of uncertainty. While substances perhaps temporarily work to dull anxieties, they will inevitably leave you feeling unbalanced once again.

In life, uncertainty and insecurity are inevitable. However, we can learn to cope with these anxieties by being conscious of our extreme thinking and by carefully analyzing our thought processes.

As always, please send questions or comments to "ASK NOAH" at

Watch my appearance this week on the David Ratigan Show.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,


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