I hate to admit it but money has overwhelmed me a lot lately. I think of myself as someone who is generally level-headed when it comes to money. But let’s face it: times are tough. The stress has gotten to me.
Here’s something important that I know: stress makes money problems worse.
When we let stress take over our brains, we don’t think as clearly. We react, instead of acting from an intentional place. So I find myself wasting money when I need to be saving it. Or I find myself overworking to the point of exhaustion because I feel like I need more money right now.
If I want to get my finances back on track, then first I have to get my brain back on track. So, here are five things that I do to de-stress about money:
1. Assign Days for Dealing with Money
I have specific days of the week and month that I deal with money. I mark them on the calendar. During those days, I turn my focus and attention to my finances. I concern myself with the details of earnings and savings, debt repayment, and budgeting.
I build a lot of self-care into those days. They are stressful days. I make sure to eat healthily. I take a lot of breaks. However, I don’t turn away from my finances on those days. Instead, I empower myself with direct knowledge about what’s happening with my money.
Then, confident that I know where my money stands, I don’t think about it on the other days of the month. When I start to worry about money, I remind myself, “you can worry about that on Tuesday.” I let it go. This way, I’m not money-stressed every day of the year. If I worried about money every single day, I would burn out quickly.
2. List What’s Going Financially Right
Our minds often focus on the negative. However, in the midst of the negative, there are always good things. Forcing my mind to focus on those positive things helps a lot when money stress overwhelms me. Therefore, I’ll pause and list the things that are going right financially.
Be careful, a critical voice in your head is likely to say, “yes, but …” For example, I might write, “I just got a new book contract.” The critic says, “yes, but your advance isn’t big enough.” Learn to set the “but, yes” voice aside. This list time is the time to emphasize what’s going right.
3. Brainstorm My Skills and Accomplishments
As you can probably tell by now, I like lists. Listing my skills and accomplishments is one of the ways that I deal with money stress.
More specifically, I will list out all of my talents and achievements that relate directly to money. I include the small things. “I have a savings account.” “I read a book about personal finance this week.” “I earned my first money from babysitting when I was twelve years old.”
Additionally, I list out things that are less obviously related to money but can help me with finance. “I am skilled at learning new things.” “I have the ability to do x, y, and z jobs.”
I re-read and add to this list during times when I feel stressed about money. It helps to have the tangible reminder that, “you know what, I got this.” You can also see this article from BetterHelp for further information on ways to manage your stress levels: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/stress/
4. I Talk It Through With a Trusted Friend
It’s not easy to talk about money. More importantly, some relationships aren’t the right ones for money discussions. You know the kind – your partner, your mother, whoever it is that you always get upset with when trying to discuss finances. But there’s also likely someone in your life, possibly just an acquaintance, with whom you can talk about money safely, honestly, and authentically.
I turn to those people when I need to. They remind me that things might seem hard, but that I’m going to be okay. It helps sometimes just to get the panicked money thoughts out of my head. It helps to hear someone else say, “I feel that way, too.”
5. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a trendy word used to describe a variety of practices. However, at its core, it is really simple: paying close attention to the present moment without judgment.
There are many different mindfulness practices (and even apps to help learn them). For example, you can pause and draw your attention to each of your five senses. That is one of many techniques I frequently utilize. I can’t undersell the value that mindfulness practice has in terms of bringing tranquility to my life. It doesn’t make the challenges of life go away. However, it gives me the perspective to see that right now, at this moment, everything is actually okay.
When I remember to pause and de-stress, the rest of my life gets easier. The status of my money doesn’t change. However, the way I view it changes. And sometimes, that changes everything.
What do you do to de-stress when money problems overwhelm you?
Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer with more than a decade of experience writing about healthy living and personal finance. She lives in San Francisco, where she has learned to maximize frugal living tips in order to thrive as a freelancer in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. When she’s not writing, she’s exploring the city on foot with her rescue dog. Learn more about her at www.kathrynvercillo.com. Kathryn also writes about saving money with coupons over at GroceryCouponGuide.com .