Learn how to determine if you're dealing with the effects of financial stress and how to cope with it with these mental health tips.
Financial complications can occur at any stage in life and can often lead to unprecedented levels of stress. From losing a source of income to having monetary obligations like bills or rent increase, it's important to understand what is causing your stress, how it may be affecting you overall, and what you can do to help ease the burden.
The Impact of Financial Stress on Your Mental Health
The recent Mind over Money survey by Capital One and The Decision Lab found that 77% of participants who took the survey reported feeling stressed or anxious about their financial situation. It seems safe to assume that most individuals have been stressed over money at one point or another. First, it's important to explore ways your body can react to stress and remember that you are not alone.
Symptoms of Financial Stress
• Trouble sleeping due to being kept up by intruding thoughts over bills or income.
• Gaining or losing weight due to fluctuation in appetite from anxiousness.
• Trouble with relationships has been reported as a common side-effect of financial stress.
• Withdrawal from social situations like get-togethers with friends.
• Depression caused by the feeling of hopelessness or that you'll never get out of a financial hole.
• Physical effects like headaches, nausea, and high blood pressure can be caused by anxiety from financial stress.
• Negative coping by excessive use of alcohol, drugs, food, or gambling.
6 Ways to Deal with Financial Stress
1. Talk to Someone
Opening up about mental struggles can be difficult at first. Still, the importance of asking for help can be the first step in finding solutions or even saving your life if hopelessness has overtaken your thoughts. Choose someone you trust, like a friend or family member, to express your stress and see how they offer their support.
Additionally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help if that is best for you. Some employers even offer mental health benefits through an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). If you are working for an organization, check their benefits as soon as you can to see if they offer mental health services and how you can use them.
2. Identify Your Pain Points
To understand where financial issues are, you should track all of your incoming income and outgoing spending. Take a look back as far as you can to see where most of your money is going. If you are unsure or haven't kept track in the past, start making a habit of recording all of your income and monthly expenses somewhere. This will help you identify the areas where you can cut back and what exactly is consuming all of your income.
3. Cut Impulse Buying
This may seem easier said than done, but in reality, it can be more achievable with a few simple tips. Companies have made it easier than ever to impulse buy by having their own apps you can download onto your smartphone. Start by deleting any apps on your phone that are appealing to you; this includes food delivery apps and stores. Next, remove your credit card information if it is saved anywhere, like Apple Pay or in your Chrome Browser; this will add an extra step of finding and entering in your card information before making a purchase. Take it a step further by deactivating your social media to avoid seeing curated advertisements.
If you can't help but impulse buy while in-store, see if your favorite stores or supermarkets offer a pick-up option, that way, you're only purchasing what you need and not getting distracted by other items on the shelves.
Lastly, having a savings plan for shopping may be necessary. Monorail is a Wishlist app that helps you save money toward those more ‘random’ items that catch your eye. With one dedicated Wishlist Fund, you can prioritize your shopping and limit how much you spend each month on non-necessities, and curb overspending in general.
4. Create a Plan
Getting rid of financial stress is not an overnight process and requires a realistic assessment of where your finances actually are. Once you've identified your pain points and tracked your spending, create a plan for how to get back on your feet. You can make a SMART money goal (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) to help you reach financial success or calculate your emergency fund amount. Having several achievable goals can help you stay motivated in your journey.
While motivation can help you get started, turning motivation into habit is key. If you’re able to automate savings and reoccurring payments, this can help you in the long run. Another common place to start is the 50-30-20 rule or seeing how much you should save per paycheck when you try to figure out your best budget.
5. Create Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Adopting habits that are beneficial for your overall health can also help ease the effects of the financial stress you may be under. In conjunction with the other steps, try new activities that can boost endorphins. Bonus points if your new activities don't cost you any extra dollars, like taking up hiking in your area, reading the stack of unread books on your bookshelf, following simple at-home workout videos on YouTube, or taking a walk around your block. Not only can these activities help your overall mental health, but they can take your mind off of other anxieties while you get back on your feet.
If you feel like your spending habits are a bit unruly, an app like Monorail can help you create a wishlist that will only let you spend the money you actually have, reducing your need for credit cards or buy now pay later apps. Or if you want to automate your savings goals. Because your financial wellness and life you want to live really do go hand-in-hand.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
Remember, financial difficulties are common and can occur at any time. Sometimes it can be easy to fall down a hole of self-blame and hopelessness. But as long as you are taking steps to improve your situation, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, and that is all you can ask for. Resources for relieving financial stress are out there and available.
Reduce Your Financial Stress and Improve Your Mental Health
Financial stress can not only affect you mentally but physically as well. Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed and understand that you are not alone in your journey. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
There's always still hope for the future. And sometimes the next step forward is to use the best tools that will help you get from Point A to Point B. Whether that be a therapist, a financial plan, or even an app.
See if Monorail would be a good tool for you.
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