Photo by Nesster / Jussi You-S-See via Flickr

Photo by Nesster / Jussi You-S-See via Flickr

Anyone who knows me will tell you: I am not what you would call an optimist. And looking for the silver lining during times like this is hard for anybody. The recession has been stressful for many people. This kind of stress can lead to increased anxiety and depression as well as loss of sleep, increased smoking and drinking, and stress on personal relationships. Yet I can’t help but see some positive effects of the recession.

Take portion sizes. In recent times they’ve been blamed for the obesity problem in the United States. But if you check the label on many grocery items these days, you’ll see that you’re getting less product for the same price (something I noticed when I made a trip to the vending machine the other day). I’ve also noticed a lot of former take-out junkies, like me, returning to the “brown bag” lunch (just like Mom used to make) in an effort to save money—but chances are, they’re shaving calories as well.

And while some have warned of the possibility of “recession obesity,” the result of eating more fast food and letting gym memberships lapse, chances are most people never went to the gym that frequently anyway and are getting more exercise by choosing to walk instead of drive or use public transportation. I gave up my $80-per-month MetroCard and now walk to and from work. Care to join me? This Friday, April 3, is National Walk to Work Day.

This brings me to the environment. Cleaner air is one side effect of saving on electric and gas bills by conserving energy, and it’s another health benefit of the recession. The software company 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy reported billions of dollars are being wasted by computers left on when not in use. This has caught the attention of business owners who are now requesting employees shut down their PCs at the end of the day. Perhaps the air will be a little cleaner too.

Has anyone else out there noticed changes in their lives made for economic reasons that have had some pleasant side effects?

–Christine Moffa, clinical editor, AJN

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