Saturday, March 7, 2009

when anxiety becomes reality

Sometimes it's hard to believe that I've been holding my breath this long.

If you ask the experts, the U.S. officially entered a recession in Dec. 2007. The news was announced about a year later. The recession began four months after I started work as a business reporter in a new town, a little place that one economist thought would only be mildly affected by any bad financial news.

In the back of my mind, I knew the economy was floundering, but it didn't hit my pocketbook until my longtime freelance gig stopped assigning anyone work in the fall. The company was supposed to be sold, but it seems things didn't work out. I didn't even get a parting W2.

The reality of the economy hit again last month when two-week furloughs were announced. And again today, when I discovered that no one is getting raises this year at my company. Our 401k match stops in April, which seems to be par for the course these days.

Although no one is sure how deep this recession will go, experts are whispering about the possibility of a 10 percent nationwide unemployment rate by 2010. It is nothing like the Great Depression, which had an unemployment high of 24.9 percent.

The reality is, 10 percent of people will be out of jobs. Ninety percent will still have them. But as I see the cuts we've made at my company, and watched news of other cuts and company shutdowns elsewhere in the country, I feel like I will almost certainly lose my job if things get much worse. No matter how rational I make the arguments in my head, I can't let go of the idea, and "plans" to immediately apply for unemployment and head out to the temp agencies in town haven't soothed my fears.

In January, I met a high school friend of my boyfriend's who was very into yoga, Bikram to be specific. Something about her demeanor calmed me, and I linked that feeling with her dedication to yoga. The economy being what it is, I decided to go the DVD route. For the last two weeks, I have been doing yoga every other day.

My body feels relaxed, although my mind is not. I tend to focus on getting the positions correct and holding them for the right length of time rather than on the breathing. I just want to look like I'm holding it together long enough to make it to the corpse pose and conk out for a while. That's my career philosophy, actually -- I'll rest when I'm dead.

As I write this post, Daylight Savings Time has hit my neck of the woods. Later this morning, the sun will seem to rise later than usual, and some of us will feel deprived of sleep for more reasons than losing an hour. I hope I'm able to forget my fears for a moment, lean deeply into my downward dog and breathe.

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