There are plenty of things to be stressed about, but for many Americans, financial stress continually outranks everything else.1 Financial anxiety is also linked to physical and mental health issues, such as high blood pressure, headaches and depression.2
But what’s the right way to deal with financial stress? And how do you lower it while working toward financial stability? Here are six ways to ease your mind about money problems so you can start feeling better in body, mind and budget.
1. Don’t ignore your financial problems
Burying your head in the sand won’t make your money troubles go away. It will only make them worse. The best way to deal with your financial anxiety is to take a good hard look at your finances – even if it hurts – and start exploring solutions.
2. Identify the causes of your financial stress
There’s sure to be a root cause of your money problems. Maybe you’re overspending, paying bills late or not budgeting properly. You may still be trying to recover from a financial emergency or job loss. Once you figure out the main source, or sources, of your money stress, you can start getting on track.
3. Create a plan for tackling your finances
With the causes of financial stress identified, you can begin mapping out a plan to improve things. If spending habits are a contributing factor, investigate ways to prevent overspending. Perhaps you need to create a budget (or need help sticking to a budget). Remember that you don’t have to fix everything at once. Choose what to tackle first and what you’ll work on later. You may find that just the act of creating a plan eases financial anxiety.
4. Reach out to experts
Some banks, including credit unions, have financial counselors available free of charge for customers. Your employer may offer something similar as well. If you’re lucky enough to have these resources available, take advantage of them. You may be surprised how quickly a financial expert can get you on track (and how quickly it will ease your anxieties).
5. Find healthy ways to de-stress
Dealing with financial stress isn’t easy. That’s why it’s important to develop healthy coping mechanisms to combat your anxiety. From running to yoga, exercise is a proven way to reduce stress,3 as is meditation4. If you have access to a therapist, talking about your worries may help, too. Even just taking a walk or listening to a podcast may ease your mind.
6. Celebrate wins
Achieving financial stability is no small feat. That’s why it’s important to celebrate accomplishments as you tackle your money problems. They don’t have to be monumental wins or huge celebrations. Whether it’s a week of cooking budget-friendly meals at home or making a payment on time, just recognizing your accomplishments will make you feel good and help alleviate stress.
Take it one day at a time
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by money problems, especially when it comes to paying off debt. Remember, whether your financial issues were building over many years or are the result of the unexpected, it will take time to resolve them. Stick to your plan and remember that with discipline and determination – and some nice, deep breaths – you’ll get there.
1. Hill, Catey. “This is the No. 1 reason Americans are so stressed out.” MarketWatch.com. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/one-big-reason-americans-are-so-stressed-and-unhealthy-2018-10-11 (accessed February 5, 2020).
2. Whysel, Brett. “3 Vicious Cycles: Links Among Financial, Physical And Mental Health.” Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brettwhysel/2018/06/27/3-vicious-cycles/#4bf79295540d (accessed February 5, 2020).
3. Harvard University. “Exercising to Relax.” Health.harvard.edu. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax (accessed February 5, 2020).
4. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress.” Mayoclinic.com. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858 (accessed February 5, 2020).