I'm sure everyone is very aware of how many job losses Canada has seen in the last year, particularly how many job losses Alberta has seen. Analysts speculate that by the end of 2016 Canada will see around 185,000 job losses in total, and not just in oil and gas exclusively, but other job related fields have been effected as well.  Not only has low oil prices and the plummeting Canadian dollar been affecting people's bank accounts, but it's affecting their weight and their health too.

It's without question that people are stressed out right now. Living in Calgary, I can feel the oppression over the city, it's tangible. More people are losing their jobs every month and there is fear in the market and the home. 

To add insult to injury, not only are oil prices in the tank but the Canadian dollar is following suit. This means that everything imported to Canada is way more expensive, shocking revelation I know but let me get to my point.

In particular, food is more expensive. It was estimated that consumers had to spend $345.00 more on groceries per year in 2015 and will be expected to have to spend another $345.00 per year on top of that in 2016. This is especially not good news for people trying to eat healthy while supporting a family.

Not only are people cutting costs in every area of their lives to save more money but they are cutting the costs that they spend on food each month, and they are doing this by buying conventional meats from feedlot farms, frozen dinners, and fruits and vegetables imported from places like Mexico and China which are known to grow their crops using herbicides and pesticides. The last thing someone wants to do is spend 100.00 on groceries just to find out the food has gone bad in less than a week due to a lack of preservatives, even though that would have been the better and healthier option.

What people don't realize though is that by skimping on their grocery bill, they are skimping on their own health insurance. With an increasing amount of stress due to the economy, there is an insurmountable influx of health conditions associated with that stress, as well as the stress that happens to our bodies when we eat processed, cheap, mass-produced food. It is predictable when we consume these food types and mix it with stress from life that weight gain and health problems are sure to follow.

So what can we do to help ourselves out in a down market, how do we eat healthy on a budget, and how do we stay as healthy as we can when all odds are against us?

On a Physical Level

1. Don't cheap out on groceries or the food you eat

  • Groceries should be the last thing you cut costs on. What you eat is directly proportional to your health. What you eat is your health insurance.
  • Eat at home more often and eat out less often. This will help you save money and you'll also be able to control what goes into your meals, and also what doesn't.
  • Cut down on your portion sizes so you can still eat quality food. The great thing about foods that are local, organic, or free range is that they are more nutrient dense than their counterparts. It will take less food than it normally would to fill you up.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and don't buy really expensive food items for the time being. Also buying frozen organic vegetables can be useful as they have been flash frozen when they are picked so the nutrient value is still there without the risk of them going bad shortly after purchase.
  • Buy free range whole chickens, or skin on pieces of meat instead of just breasts or go in with a group of people and buy a quarter of a cow from a local farmer. Do your best to always eat meat that has no hormones or antibiotics added to it.
  • Don't succumb to the pressure of buying processed, cheap food. It won't do you any favours and it certainly won't help your budget out when you're missing work because you're sick. Even if you can't eat everything local or organic, choose foods with minimal to no processing.

2. Make sure you continue to or start exercising regularly

  • Not only does exercise have a ton of benefits when it comes to your health, it also triggers the release of endorphins which help make you feel better.
  • Exercise is a great way to get out some aggression or stress you may be feeling from the day and is a much healthier option than tapping out with something like alcohol.
  • Exercise is metaphorical to life. When we push ourselves in a workout it translates to us pushing through the tough times in our lives. 

On an Emotional Level

1. Don't focus on everything that's wrong in the world, focus on what's good in your own life.

  • Sometimes life can get so hectic that we forget to think about what's going on in our own personal world. We focus on all the things we can't change instead of focusing on what we can.
  • The markets are out of your control. You can choose to meditate on what's out of your power or choose to channel your energy into being thankful for all the things you do have control over, like your health, your happiness, your relationships, etc.

2. Get stress under control

  • Being under constant stress is detrimental to both the psyche and physical body. When we are in a stress response the body undergoes a huge shift in homeostasis resulting in but not limited to: decreased digestion and assimilation, increased stress hormone production, decreased sex drive, increased cardiac output, decreased insulin resistance, increased anxiety leading to sleep disturbances, increased risk of infection, increased inflammation, decreased metabolism, and so much more.
  • Make deep breathing a priority in your life to combat stress. When we are in fight or flight we adopt a short and shallow breathing pattern. This signals the body to prepare us to either fight or flee, speeds up our heart rate, increases our stress hormone production, turns off our digestive and reproductive system, and deregulates our appetite and sleeping patterns. Deep breathing when we are stressed tricks the body into thinking we are more relaxed than we really are. Take 5-10 deep long inhales and exhales to slow down your body, and slow down your mind.

On a Spiritual Level

1. Be extra kind to those around you. Everyone is going through tough times right now, not just you. Even if you're not directly working in Oil and Gas, you may still be affected by the downturn and everyone who lives in Canada is affected by the plummeting Canadian dollar. My old boss said this quote and it's always stuck in my head:

Be gentle with everyone for they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

2. Be upbeat in a downbeat world. Being positive and encouraging instills faith and hope in those you come in contact with. Don't contribute to the negativity that surrounds, be different and give some hope to those who really need it. If you want to reap hope then start sowing it.

What are some of the ways that you de-stress when you feel the pinch of anxiety, and what are some of the ways you are being productive in a down economy?

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