By Robert Pagliarini

Do you ever feel like curling up in a ball and trying to forget the problems around you? With everything going on in the world today -- sky high unemployment, the housing market at its lowest point, prolonged wars in the Middle East, famine and genocide in Africa, the stock market in free-fall and our economy sputtering almost to a stop -- you sure wouldn't be alone in wanting to do this. But there may be another option.

What typically happens when you experience a crisis in one part of your life, such as a major health problem, getting laid off or having trouble paying your bills? Everything else in your life grinds to a halt. You stay at work a little longer. You exercise a little less. You dismiss your healthful diet for something faster. You neglect to write in your gratitude journal. You start to focus more on the past and less on the future. Basically, you stop doing all of the things that you know you should do to feel and live better.

This is one of those times when it would be easy -- even understandable -- to forget about your dreams, about doing the small things that lead to a better life, and instead become frozen in the negativity of the moment. But there's an important lesson here. Yes, do what you need to do to survive, but don't neglect doing all of the positive things that you know are right and that will benefit you.

Here are six things that you can -- no, scratch that -- that you must do today (and every day!). They may not jump-start the economy, but they can certainly jump-start your well-being during these difficult times:

1. Replace TV/radio with something (anything!) else.

The media is in the business of selling fear, and right now, business is very good. Nothing good comes from experiencing a panic attack after watching the news or listening to talk radio. Being informed is good. Being tormented is not. Instead, create an upbeat playlist; listen to books on tape; write a book; or play Angry Birds if you must.

2. Focus on what is positive.

Try to balance the onslaught of negativity with some positivity. Take just five minutes in the morning and jot down a few things that you are grateful for in your life. It doesn't matter if these are big or small, as long as they are meaningful to you.

3. Confront your fears.

What's worse than knowing? Not knowing. If you have a general sense of fear or nervousness, dig deeper to look at what is driving your fear. What's the worst thing that could happen? Of course it's scary to look, but identifying the worst-case situation often leads to some relief once you realize you can survive it.

4. Spend more time with family/friends.

When things get bad, a natural reaction for some (myself included) is to isolate from others. This is actually a horrible strategy. A much better alternative is to be around others. Tap into your social network. Get out there and start talking and sharing. Instead of meeting for drinks, go outside and enjoy the summer by taking a walk, working out together or having a BBQ.

5. Take care of your health.

Stress can wreak havoc on your body, so make sure you do what you can to take care of yourself. This means watching what you eat, getting enough sleep each night and exercising every day. You've heard this 1,000 times, but are you doing it?

6. Have some fun!

Add as much fun and frivolity in your day as you can -- schedule it if you have to. The problems you may be facing are real and serious, but that doesn't mean that you have to be down all the time. If worrying and agonizing about a problem made it go away any faster, I think Eli Lilly and Co. and many of the other drug manufacturers would go out of business. It's okay to laugh and it's okay to have fun, even (especially!) when things are tough.

It's our nature to survive -- to do whatever it takes to make it through one more day. And for most Americans right now, surviving has become their full-time job. It is times like these when passivity is our enemy. Reading about what you should do and actually doing it are two very different things. You've done the reading part; now it's time to do it. Choose to do any one of these things right now. It's a much better option than curling up into a ball.


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