Thursday, February 12, 2009

Is the Economy Stressing You Out?

Business owners and employees alike are feeling anxious and losing sleep -- and all that concern about layoffs, rising costs, and a tumbling stock market is taking a toll. A look at how you can cope.

By: Angus Loten

You know it's a bad sign when spa owners are stressing out.

Planet Beach Franchising, which oversees some 390 spas worldwide from its Marrero, La., headquarters, has seen sales dropping off this year as consumers tighten their belts to cope with the slumping economy.

"Looking at things long term, you worry about how you're going to come up with your numbers at the end of the month," says Angelina Vicknair, a company spokesperson. "It's a stressful time."

Planet Beach is not alone. By any measure, Stress Prevention Month got off to a bad start this October for small-business owners and their employees.

As lawmakers wrangled over a $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan aimed at easing the impact from the collapse of the nation's largest banks, the world's stock markets went into a tailspin. With investors and bankers in panic mode, suddenly everything from million-dollar investment portfolios to daily checking accounts appeared shaky. Add to that still-high gas and food costs, credit woes, widespread layoffs, and a rash of home foreclosures, and you've got a recipe for one stressed out nation, experts say.

While New York area cardiologists have reported a rise in hospital visits by Wall Street executives complaining of chest pains, Main Street business owners aren't doing much better.

"I'm stressed out and it's freaking me out," says Joy Gendusa, the owner of PostcardMania, a Clearwater, Fla.-based marketing firm with more than 150 employees. "Before any of this happened we embarked on building a new corporate headquarters. We're going ahead with that now, but had I known what was coming, I might've used that money to drum up more business instead. It's very stressful." Read entire article

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