We are in the middle of a stressful time in our country’s history. The election is pending; home values are sliding; Wall Street is a roller coaster and jobs are ending. This is a frightening time even for those who are not in an immediate crisis. The basic tools of stress management work just as well on money stress as they do on other kinds of stress. Many people mistakenly believe that money stress can only be reduced by money itself.
Stress management involves simple acts that reduce anxiety: breathing slowly and thoughtfully, sitting and meditating, going for a walk, spending relaxing time with your loved ones, stretching tight muscles, etc. The more a person obsesses and panics about money, the less likely they are to think of a successful strategy to work it out. Creativity is necessary to solve problems and you are more likely to think creatively when you are relaxed and your mind is loose. Allowing stress to impact your health negatively will cost you more in the long run if you need medical treatment or are too fatigued to deal with life. Negative approaches like escaping though television, eating, drinking and using drugs are tempting but we know that they do not work well. Replace passive activities with exercise, healthy eating and learning new skills. A useful metaphor is to think of yourself as an athlete training for an event. If you approach financial setbacks this way, you are focusing on a positive process and you will begin to work toward a solution in a way that will sustain you instead of wiping you out.