When it comes to the economy, the past three years have been some of the most nerve-racking America has ever experienced. To make matters worse, just when things were starting to look up, we get slapped with the debt downgrade and since then, a rollercoaster stock market. How on earth can you stay sane during times like these? Well, here are five ideas you may want to consider:

#1. Look at it as a sale

When your favorite store has a massive sale, do you get angry or upset about it? Of course you don’t! In fact, you’re probably ecstatic over the savings. Why not think of the stock market the same way?

A successful Wall Street veteran once told me “Buy when others are cryin’ and you’ll do just fine boy.” Warren Buffett has said “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.” Of course they’re not implying one should go out and gamble on highly speculative companies, but rather to consider those strong companies – the cash cows that are making money hand over fist – when they trade at significant discount. In short, think of times like these as a possible opportunity when it comes to your investments.

#2. Stay busy

One of the best ways to take your mind off something (whatever it may be) is to just stay busy and distract yourself. However I should probably clarify that distracting yourself doesn’t mean jetting over to Bloomingdales and charging up the credit card. Nor does it mean dashing off to the Ritz-Carlton hotel for spa treatments. What I’m recommending you do is to stay busy with productive things. Need ideas? Here are three:

(a) Get entrenched in a good book

(b) Learn that hobby/craft/sport you’ve always wanted to try but never did

(c) Exercise not only helps ease tension, but also can boost your confidence by helping you look good and feel healthy

Flickr photo by rednuht

#3. Seek the comfort of others

Let’s face it… we’re all in this mess together. Even though it doesn’t actually solve your financial problems, a lot of times just socializing with others in the same boat will help you feel more at ease. Right now could be a great time (and excuse) to reach out to friends and family that you’ve been meaning to catch up with to see how they’re doing. Chances are, many of them feel the exact same way you do!

#4. Put things in perspective

It’s easy for us to get annoyed when someone makes a statement like “remember you’re lucky to have food on your plate” or something along those lines, but how about this time you actually ponder that more deeply. Take a moment to watch some videos like this and I think you will feel better about your personal situation, regardless of how bad it may be right now. Growing up, I had a wise neighbor that said “whenever you have it bad, just look to the left and look to the right and chances are, someone has it worse.” This holds true for just about all adversities whether its job loss, health issues, credit card debt, family problems, death of a loved one, and the list goes on.

Closing thoughts?

There’s no denying that times are tough right now and in turn, the future can seem bleak. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I can tell you that going insane and freaking out certainly won’t make it any better. So consider these tips to stay calm during times like these.

This post was written by Mike, the creator of Credit Card Forum. His most recent post was a review of the Ritz Carlton rewards card but given its very high $395 annual fee, you would be much better off to check out these reward credit card offers instead.