Coping with Financial Stress

47743749_95d9ae2aebMoney—do you have enough of it? Will you be able to take care of your family and keep the things you’ve worked so hard to get? Financial uncertainty is causing people to personally feel the impact of a stressed economy. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association indicates that money is a source of stress for nearly 80 percent of Americans and a declining economy is taking an emotional toll nationwide.

Stories of people taking matters into their own hands are told across the country. A financial analyst from Los Angeles, experiencing his own money problems, committed murder-suicide by killing his family and then taking his own life—he left behind a note blaming an impending foreclosure as the reason for his actions. Similarly, when deputies arrived to evict a 90-year-old widow from the home she lived in for 40 years, Ada Polk shot herself in her chest.

Economic downturns have historically resulted in psychological distress. However, the following coping strategies can help you prevent an emotional meltdown in the midst of tough economic times.

If you feel yourself panicking take a break. Breathe deeply, refocus, and give yourself a few minutes of positive self-talk. Limit your exposure to money discussions—turn off of the news if you have to. Schedule an intermission from your financial woes and allow yourself time to enjoy a pleasurable activity. A regular pause and shift in focus will relieve frustrations and create inner calm.

Financial loss causes many to feel powerless and out-of -control. Learn to control what you can and let go of what you cannot. Though you cannot regulate the global economy, you can manage simple things like going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Continuing your routine in the midst of your financial crisis will reduce the stress of ambiguity and unpredictability and help recapture a sense of empowerment.

Write down your specific financial stressors and create a plan to address them. Consider ways to reduce expenses, pay off debt, or create additional streams of income. Seek professional support to develop a strategic plan, and then share your goals with a trusted friend or family member who will provide support and accountability. Check out Crown Financial Ministries for free online financial coaching.  The process of crafting a plan will help quell your fears and generate hope.

Stress is one of the primary reasons why people relapse or begin engaging in addictive behaviors. The irony is that such habits only serve to increase rather than decrease anxiety. To lower your stress, skip that third cup of coffee and avoid unhealthy vices like overeating or consuming too much alcohol. Opt for healthy activities. Begin an exercise regimen, take on a low-cost hobby, or get involved with a charity. Engaging in healthy activities can help channel your energy and facilitate personal growth.

The consuming nature of economic pressures can often cause you to focus on what you don’t have and loose site of what you do. Write a list of things you are thankful for. Do this daily and share your list with others. If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, don’t feel guilty–just join the free 5-day “Practice of Gratitude” e-course at the Gratitude Circle.   You will find that an attitude of gratitude will cultivate a positive perspective and defuse the negative emotions that are zapping your energy.

Financial difficulties can cause feelings of shame and tempt you to isolate. Don’t withdraw—you don’t have to carry your financial burdens alone. Reach out and talk to someone who can help. Gather the courage and ask for support from friends and family. If you find you are experiencing constant fear, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, or feelings of sadness— contact a psychologist or professional counselor who will help you address your financial worries.

Take action and safeguard your health. Get started on these stress-coping strategies knowing that “nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be overcome.” ~ Marie Curie

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6 responses to “Coping with Financial Stress

  1. This is great advice. For some reason last night, it all got to me. I read about some layoffs at a particular company and then found out that one of my good buddies got a pink slip. I was feeling really morose and thinking: this bad economy will just never end! Then I went to sleep. I woke this morning to sunshine and happiness and though, “crap, I was just tired!” Not that the economy isn’t bad or anything, but that black hole feeling usually comes from not taking care of myself. That’s why I think your “do something healthy” tip is so right on. Thanks for the good stuff!

  2. Wonderful advice as always, Carolyn, I’d like to add one other thought. The reason people stress about money is because they are so afraid of losing what they have. But life isn’t about HAVING, it’s about living. We’ve been sold a bill of goods and have come to believe that without THINGS, there is no meaning to life. Now I realize we’re talking about having a roof over our heads, foreclosure is not fun. But people do survive and in fact, come out feeling more alive, more connected, actually BETTER OFF in some ways. An attitude adjustment toward making do with less being a GOOD thing, is in order for a lot of us. Instead of folding up into a ball and never coming out, how about viewing what we’re facing as a challenge? I’m inspired and amazed by some of the solutions people come up with when faced with this type of crisis. We all have a decision to make–do we want to allow circumstances beyond our control to defeat us or are we going to survive and thrive DESPITE the circumstances?

  3. drcarolynmiller

    Alisa…thanks for your comments! It’s amazing how a little rest can change your perspective.

  4. drcarolynmiller

    Lynn… you have such wonderful insight and are so right! We have to allow challenges to teach us and shape us for the better. Good can always come from difficulties, even if the challenge draws out the “good” in us!

  5. Chaz

    Dr.Carolyn you are relevant as always!!

  6. Pingback: Coping with Financial Stress | The Gratitude Circle Blog

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