Financial stress self-care tips.
Chances are, you’ve been bombarded with a lot of bad economic news lately. Inflation is at record levels. The stock market is down. A recession is looming. A war is adversely affecting the world’s food and energy supplies. And don’t even get started about cryptocurrency.
We could go on, but you get the picture. Economic uncertainty is a huge source of stress. You probably felt it just reading that previous paragraph.
It’s not just us talking. In a recent study conducted by Thriving Wallet1, “90% of individuals say that money has an impact on their stress levels.”2 The study also found that money is the #1 stressor in the U.S.A. And 65% of those surveyed felt that their financial problems had piled up on them so much, they couldn’t see any way out.
What makes economic uncertainty especially vicious is that it can interfere with our ability to make plans for the future. What if you want to buy a home? Or start a family? Or retire? Financial ups and downs may cause you to postpone decisions like these until it’s too late to act on them.
So it’s a given that financial stress is, well, stressful. But what can you do about it?
In a word, plenty.
Tips for managing financial stress—and improving your financial state
Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired about the uncertain economy.
Here are some actionable financial stress self-care tips you can take right away, from the Thriving Wallet survey we mentioned earlier:
• The next time you think about an upcoming cost, write it down.
• Begin each day with a few moments of meditation. Even just a minute of paying attention to the rise and fall of your breath will reduce your stress.
• Set a clear intention for your financial life in one sentence, then write it down. It can be as simple as “I will pay off my credit card debt,” or “I will save $100 each month.”
• Set up a recurring monthly meeting with your partner or spouse to review your finances.
• Set calendar reminders so you can pay your bills on time, and don’t incur late fees.
• Each day, take a sixty-second money check-in, and review your most important accounts.
• The next time you purchase something, take a few moments to be grateful and to savor it. Cultivating this “attitude of gratitude” will help you be more mindful of future purchases.
• Spend two minutes breaking down a big financial goal you’d like to work toward, such as buying a house. “Thinking ‘big picture’ is less stressful because it’s goal-oriented and positive,” says Andy Navarrete, EVP of external affairs at Capital One.3 “And then you think about the tactics or mechanics of how you get there.”
• Talk with someone about your financial well-being and challenges; rely on a trusted friend or family member to help you. “Seeking a support network is actually a major positive and something that absolutely contributes to the success of planning over time,” says Navarrete. “Keep your goals in front of you, but also share your goals with others.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) has some additional self-care tips for mental health when you’re stressed about finances:4
• Make one financial decision at a time. Don’t make too many at once and become overwhelmed.
• Track your spending. Write down everything you purchase on a list every day.
• Identify your financial stressors. Write down ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your money more efficiently. Then make a plan—and stick to it.
• Recognize how you deal with financial stress. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, or gambling.
• Avoid temptation. Stay away from impulsive spending by leaving credit and debit cards at home, and only carrying the amount of cash you can afford to part with.
• Remember what’s important. Your family, friends, and relationships matter more than stuff you buy.
• Ask for support. Get help before a problem gets worse, and surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed.
Give yourself the benefits of self care for managing financial stress
Thinking about economic uncertainty can make us feel like it’s something that’s out of our control. But what is in our control is our response to it. And we can control how we care for ourselves in the face of it.
Here are some ways to start treating yourself a little better:5
• Take breaks. Close your eyes. Go outside. Go to the bathroom. Break the cycle of whatever you’re doing, and give yourself the gift of doing nothing, even if it’s for a few seconds.
• Breathe. Fill your stomach with air as you inhale fully through your nostrils, then let it all out through your mouth, like you’re blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. Try this 4/7/8 breathing technique from Dr. Andrew Weil to relax and calm anxiety.6
• Move. Get the blood flowing. Dance. Jump around. Do whatever is within the realm of your physical abilities—don’t strain yourself.
•Make better food choices. When we’re feeling stressed, we often reach for “comfort food” that may not be all that good for us. Try making healthy substitutes, like popcorn, carrots, celery, or nuts instead of chips. Or fizzy water instead of soft drinks. And the next time you eat, focus on the food and the sensations of consuming it. Savor, smell, chew, and swallow mindfully, and let the act of eating ground you.
• Do something nice for yourself. It can be as small as savoring a good book, or watching a TV show that’s only of interest to you, or taking a walk for the sheer enjoyment of it. You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money, but think of things you’d like to do or have—then give them to yourself.
At Rohto, we may be biased, but we think that treating yourself to some Rohto® Digi Eye® eye drops is a nice act of self-care, too. Just having that little pink bottle around can be a reminder to be kinder to yourself, especially when you’re feeling stressed by the economy.