As the government shutdown has ended with another one in February looming, federal workers are feeling the pinch in many ways. As problems accumulate with house payments, car payments, and other expenses, members of a household can find themselves dealing with high levels of stress. To learn more about this, here is some information not only regarding the psychological impact of the shutdown but also how those affected can cope on a daily basis.

Increased Anger and Fear

While most employees realize the shutdowns come to an end, that does not alleviate the increased anger and fear they are feeling. Because of this, couples may find themselves having more conflicts with one another over paying bills, looking for a temporary job to cover expenses, or simply what to buy at the grocery store.

Children’s Anxiety

As children watch their parents struggle, their anxiety also mounts. As a result, they may do poorly in school, argue with friends or siblings, and act out in other ways. To limit the impact the shutdown has on their children, counselors at the McLean Counseling Center often recommend families practice self-care during stressful situations such as these. For example, even when a family feels higher levels of anxiety and despair, it is still possible to have fun and take a break from their worries, such as going to a nearby park for a walk, bike ride, or even a simple picnic.

Dwelling on Worst-Case Scenarios

Since many workers will be facing mortgage payments without a paycheck, they start dwelling on the possibility of losing their home. However, by dwelling on the worst-case scenario, they are underestimating their ability to cope with difficult situations. To keep this from happening, one of the techniques recommended by the McLean Counseling Center is “solution-focused thinking.” With this approach, a person lists several possible solutions to their problem, evaluates each for its effectiveness, and then moves forward toward implementing a solution. By doing so, they are able to regain a certain level of control.

Losing a Sense of Perspective

Once a person starts believing the worst will happen, they lose their sense of perspective. This is common in situations where financial difficulties are present and can lead to severe anxiety and fear. To keep one’s sense of perspective, it is usually best to remember the various personal and family resources that can be called upon to help when these situations arise. Whether it is an extended family, church, or close friends, help is always just around the corner.

By remembering that it is highly likely the shutdown will end sooner rather than later, it becomes easier to focus on solutions rather than problems. If you need additional help coping with this event, the professionals at McLean Counseling Center can provide counseling services in life transitions, work stress, family problems, and many other issues that may be related to the shutdown. Amanda Roberts PhD, MA, is a clinical psychologist at McLean Counseling Center with over 34 years of experience in the field of mental health. Additional information about how to cope with the shutdown’s psychological impact can be found at