Facing Financial Insecurity? Lower Your Stress Levels

By Sarah Winfrey on 7 July 2010 (Updated 5 July 2011) 8 comments

A new survey suggests that 9 out of 10 people feel stressed about their finances. Two thirds of people say that they stress about finances more than they did 12 months ago, and 4 out of 10 claim that their finances cause anxiety. People also say that they’ve gained weight, suffered from depression, experienced a lowered sex drive, couldn’t concentrate, had problems sleeping, and lost their sense of humor because of the state of their finances.

If you find yourself among this majority of the population, take a deep breath. While there’s no immediate solution to financial stress, there are some things you can do to lower your personal stress levels. This will help you assess the problem more accurately, address it more directly, and overcome it more quickly. It will also help keep your medical expenses down, as stress is one of the main causes of some major health problems.

Breathe

Though it may feel entirely counterproductive, particularly if there are things you want to do to investigate or help your situation, find a dim, quiet place where you can have ten minutes to yourself. Get into a comfortable position — sitting or lying are the most common. Let your thoughts wander for a few minutes until they start to settle down.

Close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Don’t change anything about the way you breathe. Feel your chest rise and fall, rise and fall, rise and fall. Let your thoughts bounce away as they come.

When your 10 minutes are up, give yourself a little while to re-acclimate. Open your eyes slowly, taking in the room and the light. When you’re ready, go back to your day. Hopefully, you’ll find what many before you have found: that focusing on your breath refreshes you and rejeuvenates your mind.

Plan

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by financial difficulties. The problems seem to loom out of control, so large that they will never go away. To lower your stress levels, you’ll want to get them back in control.

If you’re under a lot of stress, you’ll probably want to get some help with this. While good financial help will probably cost you something and spending more may feel like the last thing you want to do, consider it an investment in your health and your future.

Get some help in getting a realistic view of your debt, your income to expense ratio, and what you need to do to get things under control. Negotiate interest rates, consolidate debt if you need to, and see if your professional help can get some of your debt forgiven. Do whatever you need to in order to come up with a plan that will make things better.

Wait

Giving yourself and your situation some time is probably the hardest thing you can do in a tough financial place. It feels like your stress will continue to grow, maybe exponentially, as time passes.

However, it takes time for financial situations to get better. While you don’t want to sit back and do nothing, getting a plan in place and then giving it some time let you address the problem without losing yourself (and your mind!) in it. Since you can’t fix the problem by letting your thoughts fixate on it and constantly churning it over in your mind, give it some space.

If these solutions don’t lower your anxiety, talk to a doctor. Talk therapy or medication may be necessary to lower your stress levels to a place where you can not only deal with them, but with your overall financial situation.

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Guest's picture

These are all great tips. Just taking a minute to yourself each day does great to keep you relaxed.

Guest's picture
heaps!

No matter how stressful your finances can be, it is important to forget them for just a little bit. For your family or for your friends, you should forget it for just a bit. It is not worth bringing troubles to the rest of your family as that will only make matters worse. Instead, maybe give them a hug!

Cheers,
Wahid

Guest's picture

There have been studies that indicate that we tend to stress over situations we have or feel we have no control over. Thus, the best strategy is to follow Sarah's "Plan" method above.

Create a budget that will help get you out of your financial dire straits. It might involve cutting back or finding part-time work. If you can plot your course on paper and see a way out, that will relieve the stress of uncertainty and resolve the feeling of helplessness.

Guest's picture

Great article! At the heart of stressing about money is feeling of being out of control. Trust me, I know because I work in Customer Care at freecreditscore.com. I talk to customers every day who need the support we offer when it comes to credit monitoring—an essential part of your financial health. Our customers don’t have to stress about surprises on their credit report that can undermine their chance at qualifying for the best loan rates or even getting the job they want (many employers check credit scores prior to hiring). You’d actually be surprised at how often a simple mistake or inaccuracy on your report can wreak havoc on your financial goals! Membership with a service such as freecreditscore.com puts you in control by allowing you full, 24/7 access to your credit report and score. Plus, if there’s an issue with your credit, we’ll walk you through the process getting it fixed. With freecreditscore.com, you’re not in this alone!

--Matt Bushendorf, Customer Care at freecreditscore.com

Guest's picture
Shaun

Financial crisis is part of our lives, taking this problem seriously makes you more stress and it may affects your health, be thankful if you're healthy even not financially good. Relax!

Guest's picture

People need to realize that they are not alone in this. Many families are facing financial hardship. I'm not trying to make them feel better, just reminding folks that times are tough and you just need to do what it takes to get through this.

Guest's picture
SAFTM

The hardest thing to do is sometimes committing to change. If your finances stress you out you're obviously doing something wrong and not taking enough control of your finances. Getting on a written budget is definitely the way to go for me. Not knowing where your money is going but just that something's not working is very stressful. Even if you run out of money because of old debt or whatever, seeing how you're spending your money helps you reallocate resources. Would you hire an accountant to run business finances for you if they had no idea where the money was going, didn't budget and walked around all stressed?!?!?! So why do it with your finances?

Guest's picture
Ryan

A lot of the anxiety stems from people not acting on their finances. Watching debt accumulate & savings dwindle can be very scary especially when you don't do anything about it. Some people feel hopeless. But, you can do something about it & start to take charge of your finances. It starts by putting together a budget.