They say that money can’t buy happiness, which may be true. But it can buy security, safety, basic necessities, and peace of mind, which goes a long way. In today’s fast-paced and demanding world, it’s no secret that financial stress can take a significant toll on our overall well-being. Money plays a crucial role in our lives, affecting not only our basic needs but also our dreams and aspirations. The strain of financial worries can seep into various aspects of our lives, including our physical and mental health.
Much like stigmas surrounding mental health and mental health awareness, financial stress is considered taboo in our society. Finances are considered a “private matter,” even when discussing them would be the best thing for you and might even help someone close to you feel less alone. There is a notion that our financial stresses are undue burdens to share and also that our financial successes are crass to disclose. The truth is that financial situations are impacted by many factors, some of which are personal choices and others that are dictated by societal standards, policies, and shortcomings.
How Financial Stress Can Impact Your Mental Health
- Anxiety and Depression: The constant worry about making ends meet, paying bills, or losing your job can lead to a persistent feeling of hopelessness.
- Relationship Strain: Arguments about money are one of the most common causes of marital discord. The stress of managing finances can lead to increased conflict and negatively affect our connections with loved ones.
- Physical Health Deterioration: Prolonged financial stress can lead to physical health issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and compromised immune function.
- Reduced Self-Esteem and Self-Worth: It’s easy to internalize financial difficulties and start feeling like a failure, leading to feelings of shame and inadequacy.
- Cognitive Impairment: Financial stress, like any form of stress, can impair cognitive functions, making it difficult to focus, make decisions, and think clearly.
5 Ways to Overcome the Impact of Financial Stress
1) Create a Budget:
It can be tempting to avoid problems and live in denial. Yes, you see that your debt is going up or your savings are going down, but you’re not looking closely at it, and so you can live in relative denial. This feels like an “ignorance is bliss” tactic, but it doesn’t address your finances or relieve your stress. In the back of your mind, you know that there is something you should be looking at and working on. And the longer you wait to sit down and tackle it, the more out-of-control it will become.
Develop a realistic budget to gain better control over your finances. Track your income and expenses, and allocate funds for savings, bills, and discretionary spending. The first step is to look at everything you spend money on. Even small monthly payments, like data storage, add up to an amount over a year. Annual spending, such as insurance, car maintenance, or property tax, still breaks down into a monthly payment when divided. If you receive a salary that breaks down into monthly income when divided. When you look at a month of earnings and spending, factor in your averages for those yearly amounts.
Shelter, food, transportation, healthcare, household items, gifts for others, subscriptions, insurance, savings, debt repayment, communication, investments, travel. How much are you spending on these categories per month, per year? What is your income after wages, with any taxes and/or credits factored in or miscellaneous sources of income? Whether you create a spreadsheet, sit down and put a pen to paper, or use a financial app, having an idea of what is being earned and what is being spent is the key to seeing what your situation truly is and how you might begin to adapt it to better suit your needs and goals.
2) Seek Professional Help:
Don’t hesitate to consult a financial advisor or therapist if you’re overwhelmed by financial stress. Each can offer practical solutions and emotional support to help you navigate your financial challenges. Finances are a skill like any other; nobody is born knowing how to budget, save, and invest. There is no shame in admitting that you need professional guidance when it comes to your finances, no more than there would be in seeking expertise about anything else that people go to school to learn! If you are worried that you don’t “have enough” to go to a financial advisor with, that isn’t true. Everyone who has income and spending has reason to obtain guidance about how to manage the money coming in and going out.
A therapist can provide anxiety treatment that helps you to address negative thoughts, emotions, and physical symptoms that you experience due to stress. Ongoing mental health support can help to prevent you from reaching a breaking point or assist you in re-regulating yourself if and when that occurs or has occurred. Counseling can also benefit couples who are tackling budgeting and financial planning, providing tools for communication and collaboration. Any situation that has the potential to lead to disputes and increased tension can be tricky. Finances can impact everything from basic necessities to goals to daydreams; there is too much at stake not to put every effort into creating a situation conducive to success.
3) Practice Self-Care:
Stress and anxiety lead to an increase of cortisol in the body, and cortisol is incredibly hard on us physically over time, contributing to heart disease, respiratory disease, digestive issues, and bone and muscle loss. In short, high cortisol is a disaster to every system in the body. If you have laid out your budget and you are unable to reduce your spending or increase your income at this time, then you have done what is in your control for now as far as your finances are concerned. You may not be able to change your financial situation, but you do have the power to change how you process stress and anxiety on a daily basis. No matter what the stressor is in your life, tackling its impact on your body is of great benefit.
Prioritize self-care activities like exercise, meditation, or mindfulness to manage stress. These are all tools utilized by people seeking therapy for anxiety. How to cope with financial stress is a common theme among the folks we see for anxiety treatment in Woodland Hills. Taking time for self-nurturing can help reduce anxiety and depression, enhancing your mental well-being. Improving your mindset and decreasing your overall stress not only gives you the tools to deal with stressors that arise but also acclimates your body to a lower-stress baseline. Your body wants to maintain whatever situation it is in; the more time you spend feeling regulated, the better-trained your body is to get you back to that place if you experience an anxiety trigger.
Often, we equate self-care with spa days, personal trainers, specialized diets, and other financial investments, but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to care for yourself that require minimal financial investment or utilize the finances you have set aside for necessities. Self-care sometimes begins with elements of your life that are so fundamental it doesn’t even occur to you that you can elevate your daily practices. You have to eat; make sure you eat food that makes you feel satisfied. You have to wash yourself or take a bath sometimes to unwind. You have to clean, put on your favorite podcast, light a fancy candle, and do those dishes. Making sure your basic needs are met is priority one when trying to manage stress because running on fumes means doing way more work than is necessary. That’s when burnout occurs.
4) Open Communication:
Having open and honest conversations with loved ones about financial issues is essential. Nothing will get better or become easier if you pretend you are in a different situation than you are in. It can be challenging to be honest about debt and financial limitations. Every conversation, from not being able to go for dinner with friends to the amount of debt you might be bringing to a relationship, can feel like talking about a personal failing. Remember that our society is experiencing a rapidly disappearing “middle class”. Wages are not keeping up with the cost of living in most cities nationwide (and even across the globe). If you have gotten into debt or are starting from scratch after just having climbed out of it, that does not reflect your work ethic or intelligence. You may also have started in a more difficult financial situation than others around you for a variety of reasons. Privilege (or a lack thereof) impacts finances just as readily as it does other intersections of human existence and is often directly correlated with financial status. If you are from a community that has more obstacles in the way of financial abundance, having a dialogue with people who can relate to you may help you feel less alone and more understood.
Anyone in your life who cares about you should be willing to communicate with you about finances from a place of curiosity and empathy. Know your boundaries before you begin talking. There may be areas where your financial situation is linked to someone else’s. There may be areas where it is not. Some of your issues can be helped by working together with a partner or roommate to set a budget, stay on top of bills, etc. Other issues might not have any “solutions” another person can offer, but it would help you to have a sympathetic ear to share with. Find free or low-cost local events so that you can still go out with friends sometimes! There are lots of free days (or times of day) at galleries and museums, as well as free or pay-what-you-can events hosted by community organizations.
5) Set Realistic Goals:
Sometimes, our biggest obstacle is that we don’t bother to daydream about anything less than our wildest imaginings. For example, we wish we had the money in the bank to clear our debt all at once and then purchase a vehicle or a house. While it makes sense to consider big purchases when determining your financial goals, it’s a mistake not to come up with more manageable steps along the way. Milestones along a journey help with motivation and also serve to remind us how far we’ve actually come. Waiting until the end of the road to celebrate or feel pride in your work doesn’t help you stay present. If you’re focused on an unknown future time and not allowing yourself to celebrate in the meantime, you’re not going to enjoy the journey. Spoiler alert: the journey is where we spend most of our time.
Don’t create a situation that is doomed to disappoint you. Set achievable financial goals and focus on small, gradual improvements. Outside of a windfall like a lottery win, you will have to accrue your wealth gradually, so it’s important to design a sustainable system. Celebrate your successes, no matter how minor they may seem. In fact, it is important to remember that being realistic isn’t solely about saving every penny. It is about creating a lifestyle that you can enjoy to some extent while paying your essential bills and working toward the extras. There is a lot of talk that goes around about “wasting money” on certain things, like to-go coffees, for example. While, yes, a coffee per day at home versus bought from a coffee shop will definitely add up over a year, it will not add up to enough for a down payment on a house, so don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right to treat yourself to a latte every once in a while. At the end of the year, if you have an extra few hundred dollars in your account but were unhappy and felt deprived every single day – was it worth it? Do you see yourself continuing to stick to a budget year after year if every year is empty of small joys?
Financial stress cannot be underestimated or easily dismissed. If you are experiencing financial stress, it makes sense if it disrupts your days and even your nights. Reaching out for help and support, staying on top of your budget, and focusing on self-care can help you work through the challenges as they come and also celebrate your successes! Professional help can offer guidance, and support from loved ones can offer feelings of acceptance and safety. Remember that dealing with finances is and will be a lifelong process. Your financial situation is bound to change over the years, as will your associated goals and setbacks. The best way to take on the stress is to stay honest about where you are at any given point, with yourself as well as with others. Recognize that some aspects will be easier to deal with than others will and that you are fully capable of taking them on as they come.
Anxiety Therapy at Embracing You Therapy
When you seek Anxiety Therapy in Woodland Hills, CA, you will learn the thoughts and patterns that are keeping you overwhelmed, anxious, and stuck. Because therapy isn’t just about talking! It is about making real changes in your life so you can start to feel better, feel more connected to those around you, and pursue your dreams.Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Admin Team today!