Stress and anxiety are a natural part of being a human. Although what causes our stress varies from person to person, money is one cause that I hear about a lot.
I am a natural worrier and money creates a lot of stress for many different reasons. The way my debt uses growth to rapidly increase has been something I have battled with for years. When I don’t work enough hours in a work week to meet my budgeted goal, I worry about paying all of my bills. Waiting to see my new income-based student loan payment or rent increase gives me insomnia. My stress peaks when I feel like my life is paralyzed simply because I do not have enough money right now.
The two main strategies I use for managing my money induced stress are distraction and reflection. I use a variety of methods of each strategy when I start feeling the stress building. These methods help me knock out the stress so I can recover and get back into the battle.
Watch TV, Play Video Games or Read
Watching TV, playing Pokémon or reading helps to relieve my stress by helping me escape rope out of my dark cave and into another world. It focuses my brain’s energy towards something else and gets my mind off my stress.
Exercising can be powerful when it comes to stress. It helps me release excess energy and increases my endorphins. Depending on the type of exercise I am doing, it blocks my mind from thinking about the past and the future, helping me focus on this very second. Activities like yoga, lifting weights and sex are great exercises for reaching this calm mind. Running, however, is more a method of reflection than of distraction for me.
Work More Hours
Working more hours usually is a great distraction for me when money stress builds up. Work acts as both a distraction and a safe space. It gives me plenty to focus on, but it allows me to withdraw to a place where I cannot spend my time focusing on things outside of work. It is a location-based excuse to hide from my stress. It also helps to earn a couple extra dollars when the absence of extra dollars is part of the stress.
Drink More Water
I am a stress eater, so when I get stressed out gluttony activates and all I want to do is eat. Food costs money. If I am stressed because of money, the last thing I want to do is spend more money. By drinking water, I fill my stomach so it tells my brain it’s full. If that’s still not working, I’ll chew ice cubes to trick my mouth as well.
Hangout with Friends
Usually hanging out with friends helps makes me feel better just by being with them. My friends are mostly positive people and I can absorb some of their positive energy. We just chat, play games and have a great time together. Even if I don’t want to go before, I always feel noticeably better afterward.
I have been told I have an ability to soft reset by getting a good night’s sleep. In grad school, I would be extremely upset about something at night and be totally chill the next morning. Just like the pokémon move rest, it restores energy and allows my body and mind time to recover from the day's events.
Take a Time Out
I am a big fan of using strategies for handling children to deal with myself. When it comes to stress, sometimes I just need a nice time out. I find time to be by myself and allow my mind to think about whatever it wants. Letting my mind wonder tires it out and calms it down. Sometimes, I meditate in my room with the lights off, listening to music. Other times, I run or take a long drive, at least I did when I had a car.
Review Finances and Develop a Plan
It may sound crazy, but sometimes reviewing my finances relieves some of the stress caused by them. Finding and entering data, reviewing my findings and researching potential solutions help transform my worry into a plan of action. Having a plan relieves the worry by removing some of the helplessness.
Using this method comes with a bit of risk and can be described as a doublade. There is a potential 50% chance that it may increase my stress. Sometimes with more information, I see more problems. Other times I struggle to find an appropriate plan which increases the feeling of helplessness.
Become Depressed and Pause Caring
Not every method I use is positive and healthy. Sometimes my money stress is so overwhelming that I develop a helplessness complex and depression. I feel frozen, with no ability to fight, and there is nothing I can do to improve my situation. If it lasts long enough, I start to feel like my progress has been for nothing and I temporarily give up. I pause caring about being responsible and I start to spend credit on little things. I don’t go on shopping sprees, but my extra spending manifests by buying food and eating out. (I am a stress eater after all.)
Talk to Someone
Talking about my stress with someone and what’s causing it helps get my thoughts out of my head. It also allows someone else to offer insight. My husband is a great listener. He has gotten better at anticipating when I just need to complain and when I’m seeking advice. His strength helps me move boulders to easier clear a path to inner focus. He can tell when I’m depressed and helps me with a heal pulse.
It takes a combination of at least one method of both strategies to restore me back to full health. After I have recovered, I am back to battling the never-ending battle with my personal finances. Someday, I will faint less during my battles, but for now, I just need to take a turn to recover and get back in there.
Let’s chat: What are your methods for managing money induced stress?
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