As humans, we have a wide range of emotions. Anxiety is just one of them, but unfortunately, it seems to me to be one of the most unpleasant. It is an acute sense of fear or apprehension about possible future events and affects people in a physical and emotional way – although if you suffer from anxiety you definitely don’t need me to tell you that. Feelings of anxiety can be brought on by a number of different stressors and money is one of the most common. But what do you do when concern about paying the bills turns into tightness in your chest, overwhelm and sleepless nights? Here are a few tips to help reduce your financial anxiety and put yourself back in control of your emotions and finances.
Back to Reality
Stop and take a deep breath. Then, remember that the future hasn’t happened yet. Much of the stress and anxiety you feel is based on an imagined outcome – and most likely you’re imagining the worst-case scenario. Am I right? We have evolved to be able to anticipate future events in order to keep us safe, but in today’s society, the risk of the worst-case scenario is lower than our brains lead us to believe. Know that having access to that very vivid imagination of yours can potentially be very useful, but that it’s not always helpful. When it leads to feelings of overwhelm and stops you from moving forward, it no longer serves you. So, the first step is to remember that the future is still unwritten and right now you have the power to write it.
Change your stories
A lot of financial anxiety occurs because of what we believe about money and more specifically, what it means about us or our life. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your stories about money. Many of these money stories come from our childhood and often specifically from our parents. Did not having enough money cause fights between your parents? Did one or both parents have negative opinions of “rich people” or “poor people”? I speak to a lot of women who just don’t trust themselves to earn and manage their money, all stemming from experiences or messages that were previously outside of their awareness.
It’s important to uncover and discuss your views about money and understand where they come from and whether they are serving you. If not, it’s time to start re-writing them. Think about what a healthy relationship with money would look like for you and practice those thoughts and create habits that support it.
While I believe our thoughts and feelings are super important, there is definitely a point where we must consider the reality of our situation. There is no point in pretending that everything is going to be ok when you have mounting debt or you’re unable to pay the bills. Equally, overwhelm will keep you from making any decisions at all. Taking control of your finances – having a budget, planning for the future and having good systems and healthy financial habits – will help to ease your anxiety by giving you the confidence that you will be able to meet your commitments and invest in things that bring more joy into your life. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. If you don’t know where to start, or you need some guidance or assistance, then seek support from someone you trust.
Symptoms of stress and anxiety can be made a lot worse if we don’t look after ourselves. Lack of sleep, poor eating or drinking too much alcohol can make even a minor concern seem much worse. Prioritising yourself and your health isn’t a selfish act, it’s absolutely necessary. Try meditation, go to bed a bit earlier, take a walk or do something that you enjoy. True self-care isn’t spending a fortune on a fancy spa treatment (although I do love a good facial!), it’s prioritising your mental, physical and financial health.