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How to Reduce Financial Anxiety

Updated on February 12, 2013

Financial Stress & Worry on the Rise

With double digit unemployment rates, rising gas and food prices, and investment portfolios that have lost 40% or more, it's understandable that people are really stressed out about their finances.

A recent poll done by About.com shows that 7 out of 10 people are very stressed out about money, with only 1 out of 10 people not stressed about money.

In this lens, we'll talk about how stress affects you and how you can reduce your financial stress (or any stress for that matter) in these uncertain times.

Daily Affirmations Help Relieve Financial Stress

The Wealthy Spirit is the only book that offers an approach to achieving both spiritual and financial wealth. Through a series of daily affirmations that focus on the reader’s internal strength and capacity for change, this book will set them on a path toward personal enlightenment and wealth in body, mind, and spirit.

Financial Stress Can Lead to Health Problems

Anxiety over money can negatively affect health in several ways:

  1. Bad Habits: People experiencing financial stress are more likely to use drinking, smoking, or overeating to numb their anxiety. This in turn leads to more stress.
  2. Lost Sleep: People often have a hard time sleeping when they are under financial stress, which can impair how they function, lead to moodiness and other health problems.
  3. Less Money For Wellness and Self-Care: With less money in the budget, people who are already under financial stress may let their health insurance coverage lapse or stop going to the doctor. Small problems can go unchecked and turn into larger problems. This also leads to more stress.

A Simple Exercise to Reduce Financial Anxiety

A few years ago I learned an exercise that is designed to de-clutter your mind. While this exercise was really created to be used when you have too many things to do, I found it to be a great stress reliever, and use it anytime I'm worried about something and need to reduce my stress about whatever is bothering me.

The Exercise

To get started, for 15 minutes, write down everything that's on your mind. In this case, I want you to focus on writing down everything that's on your mind about your finances. It doesn't matter if you use pen and paper for this exercise, or use a computer (I use a computerized journal). The purpose is to write down everything that is on your mind about your finances. Keep writing until you run out of things to write.

When you've written down everything you can think of, review your list. Put an "X" next to everything on your list that you have no control over. You can even cross these items off if you want. Things that you have no control over, well, you have no control over them, so you should not spend your time worrying about them.

Next, review the remaining items on your list. Put a star next to everything that you do have control over and that is a priority to you. When you have a problem or a concern about something, you should always determine what you have control over and make plans to change those things for the better. After you have put stars next to each item that you can control and that are important to you, start making plans to improve these items.

For example, you may have listed "I need to save more" on your list. This is something that you can control, and it's important to you. Now that you are aware of that, you can make plans to do things to improve this area. You might make a note on your calendar to transfer $10 from your checking to your savings each week, or you might start a change jar, or you might start watching how much you spend so that you can save more. The point is, this is something on your list that you can control, and by taking control and taking action, you will reduce your anxiety around your finances.

Example

Here's an example of what your list may look like after completing this exercise:

My 401K tanked yesterday

I'm worried that I may not ever be able to retire

I'm worried about how I'll take care of my mom and my own family at the same time

*I need to pay off my debts

*I worry that I may not be saving enough

I'm mad about the $700 bailout plan

I'm worried that the stock market won't go back up

In this example, I have crossed off everything that I do not have control over. I can't control the stock market or whether or not Congress passes the bailout plan, so I'm not going to worry about those things any longer. Items that have a star next to them are things that I do have control over, and that I want to prioritize. I know that I can take steps to pay off my debt and to save more, so I'm going to focus on those items now. Items that are not crossed off and do not have a star are things that I can control, but they aren't my highest priority right now. They will move to the priority list later on.

After doing this exercise, I feel much better because I know what I can and need to focus on, and I know what I can let go of and not worry about anymore.

Breathing Exercises to Relieve Stress

Try breathing exercises to reduce your financial anxiety. Breathing exercises are a great way to relieve stress in that they're fast, simple, free, and can be performed by just about anyone. They can also be done anywhere and at virtually any time.

Here's a very simple breathing exercise you can do anywhere at any time:

1. Sit or stand in a relaxed position.

2. Slowly inhale through your nose, counting to five in your head.

3. Let the air out from your mouth, counting to eight in your head as it leaves your lungs. Repeat several times. That's it!

Tip: As you breathe, let your abdomen expand outward, rather than raising your shoulders. This is a more relaxed and natural way to breathe, and is more effective in relieving tension.

Another breathing exercise is simply to count your breaths. Take deep breaths and count each one up to a specific number. If you just need a quick stress break, count up to 10, if you are meditating or need to really calm down, try counting up to 60 breaths. This is a great exercise because you don't need to remember how long to hold your breath or do anything special, you simply count your breaths.

Exercise is a Great Stress Reliever!

Many people don't realize this, but exercise and stress management are closely linked.

Exercise can be an extremely effective stress reliever for several reasons:

Exercise can be an outlet for your frustration and anger. High energy exercises, like boxing or martial arts are a great way to release anger and other unhealthy emotions.

Exercise decreases stress hormones and increase endorphins (your body's feel-good chemicals), giving your mood a natural boost.

Exercise is a great distraction because it takes your mind off your problems and forces you to focus on the activity at hand. Racquetball is a great example of an exercise that forces you to focus on the activity rather than your problems.

In addition to these benefits, studies have shown that regular exercise can create some immunity toward future stress as well as a way to cope with current stress. Simply put, those who get more exercise may become less affected by the stress they face.

20 Ways to Lower Stress in Your Life

By Kim Cooper

Stress is damaging and it can take a toll on your personal life as well as your career. I dealt with high levels of stress in my former work place. It got so bad that I would feel sick walking into the building. I came home in bad moods and took it out on my loved ones. Life doesn't have to be that way and you don't have to live stressed out 24/7.

High levels of stress can do major damage to us mentally and physically. Some people have suffered from panic attacks and other physical affects due to tension and stress. Mentally, you may be worn down and suffer from constant mood swings. I for one felt a lack of energy and stopped caring about my general health in terms of exercise and eating healthy.

Here are some ways to help lower your stress levels:

1. Meditate

2. Learn how to breath better

3. Take mini-vacations

4. Yoga

5. Take naps

6. Separate work life from home life

7. Stop working late hours

8. Become more organized

9. Take things slower

10. Exercise regularly

11. Enjoy quality time with family

12. Take up a new hobby

13. Change careers

14. Become more social

15. Go to more events (shows, concerts, etc.)

16. Take more breaks during the day

17. Cut out bad habits (smoking, eating junk, etc.)

18. Read stress management books

19. Make positive affirmations

20. Get a pet

A surefire way to lower stress and finally live stress free is to follow a stress management program that explains how. I found such a program that may be the perfect fit for you.

Click here - Learn how to change your life for the better and live stress free.

You can enjoy your family, career, and social life by reducing stress starting today.

How Do You Reduce Financial Stress In Your Life?

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    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done.

    • profile image

      Squidoo-Freak 7 years ago

      I build Squidoo lenses to create an extra income ;-)

      Then I make sure to not spend any more than what I bring in - while paying off as much of my debts from past mistakes - as I possibly can.