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RISMEDIA, April 14, 2009-(MCT)-Optimism. For months, it’s been in rather short supply.

Like a lingering cold you can’t shake off, the economy’s blues just hang on. It’s not just our bottom line that’s been battered, but our psyches, too. And even if you haven’t lost your job or aren’t facing foreclosure, it’s often hard to feel good.

We can’t change the market’s ricocheting ride nor can we instantly Botox our bank accounts. But we can change how we take it all in. Here’s how:

Be grateful
If your paycheck’s been pinched or your job’s disappeared, it’s hard to feel thankful, but look around: The market popped up again last week for the fifth week in a row, U.S. jobless numbers were bad, but not worse than expected and California banking behemoth Wells Fargo reported a profit. Mortgage rates have fallen to historic lows as well.

Maybe these aren’t reasons to rejoice, but they’re hints that a recovery could be coming. Someday.

Let it go
It’s easy to get mired in mourning what we’ve lost, whether it’s a job or retirement savings.

Eventually, it’s time to move on. “Let go of the anger, the anxiety, the resentment, the baggage,” says Maureen White, a human resources veteran who runs a support group for laid-off Sacramento professionals. “Let go of your 2 a.m. ruminating: the ‘coulda,’ ‘shoulda,’ what-if scenarios that run through your head.”

White recommends talking it out with family, a friend, a counselor, or a support group. Use those conversations to assess what you learned and what you can take with you to your next endeavor.

Get out the door
Fight the tendency to hunker down and burrow under the covers. “Force yourself to take a break from thinking about the bad,” said professor Kimberly Elsbach, an organizational behavior expert at the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management.

Other ways to improve your mood, she said, are: “Exercise, don’t listen to TV news. Treat yourself to a sandwich with a friend or take a coffee break to lift your spirits.”

And if a furlough or layoff has knocked you out of work, Elsbach recommends this no-cost emotional boost: volunteering. “It gives you a sense of purpose, self-worth, self-fulfillment. Just because you’re not getting paid for work,” Elsbach said, “doesn’t mean you can’t be doing work that’s important.”

And there’s an added benefit to volunteering, she noted. “It’s a good place to network: You never know who you’ll meet.”

Reality check
Amid all the economic bad-news barometers, it’s challenging to keep perspective, especially for those immersed in it daily.

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto says a dose of reality helps. “People have to realize it’s never as bad as the media reports on the downside or as wonderful on the upside. You have to have your own inner compass to relate to what’s out there.”

Take stock
And we don’t mean your shares of GE or Procter & Gamble. Instead, take note of bigger things in life than your 401(k) numbers. “If we define our existence by money, it can be a fairly shallow existence,” notes Cavuto.

It takes work
Staying sunny amid financial gloom can be daunting. “We’re human. It doesn’t come to us naturally,” said Cynthia Meyers, a Sacramento, Calif., certified financial planner. “We all have down periods where we don’t feel good about the world.”

© 2009, The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.