If you feel stressed just living your life, you’re not alone.
Americans lead stressful lives. Jobs, relationships, health, family obligations, community responsibilities—they all take their toll.
In “Stress in America 2012,” an annual survey by the American Psychology Association, 1 in 5 respondents reported an extreme stress level of 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale! In that same group 69% of respondents reported physical or non-physical symptoms of stress, including irritability or anger, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed or changes in their sleep. No wonder sales of anti-anxiety drugs are on the rise.
The top source of stress according to 69% of the respondents is–money. It is beyond the scope of this brief article, but your attitudes about money have a lot to do with how you value yourself. Forget, for a moment, your net worth. What is your self-worth?
Coping with money worries is difficult for many people. You may feel lost or out of control and that makes you feel insecure. You may argue with your spouse. And ironically, you may go on a shopping spree to try to relieve your stress. Yes, go ahead and scratch your head on that one.
April is National Stress Awareness month and as the April tax day approaches it’s a good time to think about ways to cope with financial stress.
7 Healthy Tips for Coping with Financial Stress
- Take breaks from the computer when doing bookkeeping and taxes. Computer work is hard on your neck and shoulders and for many people financial work is the most stressful computer work of all. All this stress can lead to a sore neck, shoulders and back. That can contribute to your feeling cranky and frustrated. So, get up every 45 minutes to walk around and stretch. Take deep breaths. Keep your body relaxed so your emotions stay level. And please pull your shoulders back down from your ears.
- Take charge of your finances. Track your earnings and spending every day for a month. Be ruthless and write down every penny. When you have a clear picture of your income and expenses make a reasonable spending plan which keeps them balanced. Don’t budget on what you hope you’ll make or wish you’ll spend. Be realistic. Having a budget will give you control and reduce your financial stress. If you don’t patch the leaks in your financial boat, then it may become ever more difficult to stay afloat.
- Plan your splurges. It’s difficult to stick with a financial plan if you feel like it is overly restrictive and deprives you of what you love. Budget for reasonable treats. Plan to spend money on the things that give you the most pleasure. Ice cream anyone?
- Balance making more with spending less. Sometimes taking extra shifts at work is smart and sometimes spending less is the best plan. Make conscious choices about which strategy gives you the most benefit and the least financial stress.
- Plan your shopping trips to avoid impulse buys. Shopping can be stressful when you’re worried about money. Shop when you are fed, hydrated and relaxed. Shopping sales seems like a smart idea but only if you need the item – and can afford it. if you buy because you’re afraid you will never see such great prices again, those sales wind up costing you money. When you shop sales buy only what you planned. Don’t fall prey to “Sale Fever.” Depending on your individual situation, you may also have to separate needs from wants.
- Find support. Sharing your financial triumphs and frustrations with a friend can be a big help in dealing with your financial stress. A friendly ear gives you feedback when you’re tempted to blow your budget and accountability when you get lax.
- Stay Calm. If you feel panic because you can’t pay your bills, remember to breathe. In order to move forward, think about what your next step should be and resist negative thoughts or making your circumstances huge. Recall similar times when you managed your problems successfully.
When you worry about money it is especially important to take care of your health. Stress erodes good health. Remember to do your healthy routines. Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. Consider learning some relaxation techniques.
Even though few people celebrate Tax Day, it doesn’t have to be stressful. Take steps to manage your financial stress. Call me if you need help relieving your stress symptoms or in learning how to reduce stress effectively in all areas of your life in order to become a new person. Then, no matter what financial situation you find yourself in, you can keep the change!