The pandemic, the housing market, record-high inflation, and talk of a recession are putting stress on all of us. Even though we know there’s more to life than money, financial stability can go a long way to improving happiness and quality of life.
Economic anxiety can feel hopeless in the moment, but there are several healthy ways of coping and getting your financial situation back on track.
How economic anxiety can affect you
Like any other stressor, worrying about money has both physical and mental health impacts. You might find yourself arguing with your partner, feeling angry or ashamed, or performing poorly at work or school.
Physical effects include:
- Changes in eating habits
- High blood pressure
- Lowered immune system functions
- High heart rate
- Gastrointestinal issues
Mental effects include:
- Memory loss
- Obsessive behavior
- Substance abuse
Tips for coping with financial anxiety
1. Start by determining what’s causing you stress
If you can pinpoint exactly what’s giving you anxiety, you’ll be better prepared to address it. Are you struggling with day-to-day expenses, like paying rent and buying groceries? Are you worried about investments you currently have? Or are you stressed about the undefined future and how you’re going to pay for retirement?
Listing what’s causing you grief will help your brain go from catastrophizing to focusing on solutions.
2. Make a plan
Creating a budget can go a long way in managing your stress. Even if it feels upsetting to work on a budget at that moment, once you’ve addressed your expenses, you can more easily visualize where each dollar is going. In the long run, you’ll feel more at ease when managing your finances.
If debt is a major factor in your economic anxiety, develop a concrete plan for addressing fees, penalties, and the debt as a whole. If you’re struggling to make payments, reach out to the lender to explore your options for debt consolidation.
3. Speak to a financial advisor
If your economic issues aren’t readily solved with a family budget, it might be time to speak to a professional. There are resources for finding a financial therapist, who you can sometimes consult for free. There are also plenty of free online courses for learning money management, especially for giving people the tools to become financially independent and close the racial wealth gap.
Getting financial therapy can give you concrete ways of spending less and moving your money smartly.
4. Make time for self-care
Keeping active, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy are some of the best ways to combat stress. Be sure to prioritize yourself and give some space for mindfulness, meditation, artistic expression, and small pleasures like cooking a great meal.
When you focus on the little things that make you happy, you’ll feel less stressed about the big picture. On that note, take a break from social media. Comparing yourself to others and the lavish, healthy lifestyles they’re projecting can send your anxiety spiraling. In reality, their lives might not be as fantastic as they seem.
5. Know you’re not alone
Economic anxiety is among the top stressors for adults today. Try not to feel isolated or ashamed of going through something so many people are tackling daily.
6. Seek therapy
If your economic anxiety is affecting your daily life and ability to function at work or in relationships, you should consider counseling. A licensed therapist can help you learn to control your anxiety and manage everyday stressors in a healthy way.