10 Ways to Relieve Your Money Stress


Money is a big part of our lives. It's involved in almost all of our daily interactions, in one way or another. But money is also a big cause of stress. In fact, it's the leading cause of stress, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. You can't avoid dealing with money, but you can learn how to de-stress with these doable methods.

Where is this financial stress coming from?

Stress about money is greater if you're facing a financial crisis or living in a lower-income household. However, you may have plenty of money and still feel significant stress. That's because the underlying cause of financial stress, even for millionaires, is fear: either fear of not having enough money, or of doing the wrong thing with the money you do have and losing it all. Fear affects all of us, which means that no one is immune to financial stress.

What is stress doing to you?

While stress can have some unexpected positive effects, such as motivating you to save more money, the overall impact is negative. Financial stress is associated with absenteeism at workand lowered productivity and performance at work. In addition, financial stress could actually be causing you physical pain. (See also: 4 Ways Stress Is Killing Your Finances)

How to effectively de-stress

Financial stress is basically an unavoidable part of life. That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that you can learn how to reduce and manage the stress you experience with these easy methods. (See also: 7 Ways to Stay Calm in Stressful Moments)

1. Talk it out

One of the easiest, fastest, and best ways to reduce the stress you feel is simply to get emotional support from someone you know and trust. It can be as simple as a text or phone call to talk about what's stressing you out. Opening up with trusted friends or family leads to reduced stress and helps you feel like you're not alone. Bonus: you may also benefit from tips and good advice you receive.

2. Create art

Break out the paint, the markers, or just write. Really, the kind of art you make doesn't matter. It's the time and attention spent making art that does. Making art has been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, which is a hormone associated with stress. In various studies, 45 minutes to an hour of art making left people feeling more relaxed, stress-free, and able to concentrate.

3. Meditate

Mindfulness in any form is good for reducing stress, and meditation may be the most powerful method for improving mindfulness in your life. There are many different types of meditation you can do, and any of them can help you focus on the present, reduce negative emotions, gain perspective, and manage symptoms of depression and tension headaches. (See also: 6 Ways Meditation Can Make You a Money Master)

4. Exercise

Exercise — in particular aerobic exercise such as walking or jogging — reduces stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in the body. Exercise also helps your body produce endorphins, which lessen pain and elevate your mood. Of course, a bonus is that you'll be in better physical shape and increase your overall energy and stamina. Those benefits, along with feeling more powerful and in control, will also help reduce stress, so exercise becomes a positive stress-reduction cycle. (See also: 10 Surprising, Non-Physical Benefits of Exercise)

5. Replace your thoughts

An approach from the Cognitive Behavior Therapy playbook referred to as Negative Thought Replacement can help you deal with those nagging money worries that turn into a never-ending mental monologue. Start to notice the negative phrases and beliefs that run through your head; you can even write them down to "see" them more clearly. Then, come up with phrases and statements that are positive and say those instead. For example, "I don't know what I'm doing with money," could become, "I'm learning how to manage my money." (See also: 4 Ways Your Mind Can Make You Rich)

6. Get off social media

Social media isn't a cause of stress for everyone; however, for some people, it can be. Research shows that when social media leads to an increased awareness of stress or crisis in the lives of others, that awareness can trigger more stress in some people. It's referred to as "the cost of caring;" it's as if stress becomes contagious and is transferred through these social media connections. If you find yourself feeling more worried and upset after being on social media, try taking a break. Piling other people's stress on top of your own isn't healthy. (See also: 5 Ways to Break Your Social Media Habit)

7. Listen to music

Music is therapy. There's plenty of research showing that listening to music can help lower your stress levels. In some cases, having background music, like Pachelbel's Canon, helped reduce anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure. In other situations, music can decrease pain and anxiety, and help improve moods. So find your favorite soothing or upbeat tunes and listen while you work, play, or just sit and breathe.

8. Breathe deep

Deep breathing works anytime, anywhere. On a bus? In a car? On a plane? In a house? With a mouse? Dr. Seuss-isms aside, deep breathing works and is always available — no equipment required, other than your own lungs. Deep breathing triggers relaxation in your body and, as a result, your heart rate slows, your muscles relax, and your blood pressure and metabolism decrease; all these physiological changes bring about a state of calmness. Try taking a deep breath in as you count to seven; then slowly exhale to a count of eight. Do five deep breaths for a full set. (See also: You Might Be Breathing Wrong — Here's What You Should Do Instead)

9. Laugh it off

Laughter is the best medicine, as it turns out; at least for stress. Laughter soothes tension, induces muscle relaxation, and enhances your intake of oxygen. Basically, you get the benefits of deep breathing, while also kicking up the endorphin production in your brain. Reducing your stress could be as simple as turning on a sitcom you love, playing a funny game, or getting together with that one friend that always makes you laugh. (See also: 10 Serious Health Benefits of Laughter)

10. Pet an animal

Having a pet is great, but if you can't have your own, no problem; borrow one. Go to a friend's house and snuggle their cat, walk a neighbor's dog, or volunteer at the local animal shelter. Animal interaction comes with physical health benefits, like lowered blood pressure, and improved psychological wellbeing. (See also: 5 Surprising Ways Your Dog Can Save You Money)

Develop a handful of your favorite methods

A recent research study designed specifically to help participants reduce Acute Financial Stress (AFS) found that having a variety of stress-reduction methods to use seems to be most effective. That way, you can apply the method that seems to be most appropriate for the kind of stress you're feeling. For example, if you feel a headache and muscle tension coming on after paying the bills, it's time for some exercise. Or, if you're struggling with a nagging money monologue, meditation or talking it out might be the best method at the moment. Listen to your body, and do what works best for you.

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