PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images

Stress Management Techniques When Dealing With Financial Anxiety

Stress Management Techniques When Dealing With Financial Anxiety

Manage your stress then manage your money

PeopleImages/E+ via Getty Images

Even before the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans were stressed over money. In fact, according to one 2019 survey, money is the biggest source of stress among Americans, topping concerns about work, health and family. If you’re worried about money, that stress can easily become all-consuming, affecting your relationships and your well-being. Here are some practical strategies for taking care of your mental health as well as your finances.

Take stock of your financial situation

Take stock of your financial situation

Hill Street Studios/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Before making a plan to handle your finances, you need a clear picture of your current position. Sit down and assess your current financial situation. Calculate your current expenses, evaluate your debt, review your 401(k) contributions and look at how much you’re putting away in savings.

Address 1 thing at a time

Address 1 thing at a time

10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Overhauling every aspect of your finances at once can be overwhelming and you can burn yourself out. Instead, take on one thing at a time. Prioritize the most critical, pressing issues first.

Tackle debt first

Tackle debt first

sturti/E+ via Getty Images

If you don’t know what to prioritize, tackle debt repayment first. High-interest debt can weigh heavily on your shoulders and sink your other financial plans as you end up paying more on interest in the long-run.

Identify your financial stressors

Identify your financial stressors

WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Another way to determine where your financial priorities should be is to think about the ways money causes you stress. If there’s one particular aspect of your finances that causes you the most anxiety, that’s what you should focus on first.

Track your spending

Track your spending

PREMIO STOCK/Shutterstock

Take advantage of the variety of budgeting apps and tools available to help you track your spending. These will help you be more informed about your habits and feel more in control of your finances.

Take a critical look at expenses

Take a critical look at expenses

katleho Seisa/E+ via Getty Images

Certain daily, weekly or monthly expenses might not seem like much but they add up. Once you’re tracking your spending and have an accurate snapshot of expenses, it’s time to get critical. Take a look at how much you’re spending on “wants” instead of “needs” and figure out what can get cut to contribute elsewhere. Based on the 50-30-20 rule of budgeting, 50% of your after-tax income should go toward needs, while 30% can go to wants and 20% should go to savings and debt repayment.

Avoid temptation

Avoid temptation

visualspace/E+ via Getty Images

Even after slimming down your expenses and setting a budget, you still might be tempted by impulse purchases. Stay away from the things you know are your biggest traps when it comes to spending money. Avoid certain stores or the mall, delete shopping apps on your phone, unsubscribe from email lists or unfollow Instagram pages that might tempt you to buy things that aren’t within your budget.

Automate payments

Automate payments

martin-dm/E+ via Getty Images

Remembering to make manual payments is a chore that can also contribute to your financial stress. When possible, set up automatic bill pay. This will also help you avoid frustrating penalties for late or missed payments.

Start a savings account

Start a savings account

recep-bg/E+ via Getty Images

A low amount of savings or lack of emergency funds can also weigh heavily on you. Setting up a savings account and getting in the habit of contributing to it can give you a safety net to make you feel more secure. You can also automate contributions to your savings so it comes out of your account just like bill payments.

Set realistic goals

Set realistic goals

filadendron/E+ via Getty Images

Your financial future might feel hopeless or out of reach, but setting realistic goals for the future can keep you motivated. Make sure to set short-term goals as well so you can experience the satisfaction of reaching them.

Consider a side hustle

Consider a side hustle

Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

If you can’t whittle down your spending enough, another option is increasing your income with a side job that will earn you extra cash. A side hustle can boost your income, giving you more money to pay off debt, save for emergencies or invest. Just make sure you choose one that fits your lifestyle and doesn’t cause you too much additional stress.

Engage in open communication

Engage in open communication

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision via Getty Images

One of the keys to a lasting relationship is open communication, especially about money. If you’re co-managing your money with a spouse, partner or other family member, it’s important to regularly check in with each other on finances. You can praise each other for smart decisions and catch small problems before they become big issues that cause arguments. You should also confide in each other about any stresses when it comes to managing your money so you can work together to brainstorm solutions — a person shouldn’t feel too burdened or left in the dark.

Recognize your coping mechanisms

Recognize your coping mechanisms

laflor/E+ via Getty Images

Financial stress can cause unhealthy reactions, like coping with drugs and alcohol, lashing out in anger at loved ones, engaging in impulsive behaviors or turning to gambling and shopping to try to find relief. Rather than relieving stress, however, these behaviors will only compound it. It’s important to identify your own hurtful coping mechanisms before you get caught in a vicious cycle.

Find positive ways to cope

Find positive ways to cope

Zing Images/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Once you’ve identified the harmful ways you react to financial stress, find positive alternatives that can help you cope. One option is physical activity, like going for a walk, running or joining an online exercise class. For others, it’s relaxing rituals like drinking tea, reading or taking a bubble bath.

Engage in self-care

Engage in self-care

10'000 Hours/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Speaking of relaxing, it’s not only acceptable but also vitally important to take care of yourself and spend time on self-care. Hustling and working to the point of exhaustion isn’t a sustainable or healthy way to reach your financial goals. Small breaks throughout the day, allowing yourself time to rest, taking “me time” and using vacation days are all ways to diminish your stress.

Take care of your body too

Take care of your body too

VioletaStoimenova/E+ via Getty Images

Another crucial aspect of self-care that will improve your mental well-being is taking care of your body. This means regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy meals and drinking plenty of water.

Take advantage of relief programs

Take advantage of relief programs

MartinPrescott/E+ via Getty Images

If you’re having trouble making payments, reach out to your bank, utility company or credit card company. It’s in both of your interests for you to financially stay afloat, so many institutions are willing to negotiate settlements and payment plans. Currently, many companies and banks are also implementing relief measures for their customers during the pandemic. Other agencies and community organizations are providing general financial assistance and guidance that you should take advantage of.

Find someone to talk to

Find someone to talk to

SDI Productions/E+ via Getty Images

Another great source of encouragement can be support groups. There are a variety of community and online forums, workshops and groups for people who are in similar financial situations and can empathize with your issues. Therapists and mental health professionals can also help you talk about your financial stress and help you work toward solutions for managing it.

Ask for help

Ask for help

skynesher/E+ via Getty Images

It can feel like a breach of etiquette to bring up money with loved ones, but the people around you might be an untapped resource for financial knowledge and support. Friends and family members who are financially savvy can give you advice, share resources that have worked for them, help keep you accountable for your financial goals and provide encouragement.

Get professional help

Get professional help

Morsa Images/DigitalVision via Getty Images

If you’re still feeling utterly overwhelmed and aren’t able to get a handle on things with the help of friends, family members or other resources, you might consider turning to a financial planner. They can provide you with professional help and concrete guidance on how to achieve your short- and long-term financial goals.

More from The Active Times:

Resume Skills You Can Build at Home While Job Searching

The Hardest-Working Cities in America

COVID Burnout? WFH Burnout? Here’s How to Talk to Your Boss About It

How to Vote in 2020 Election Safely in Person

USPS 101: Historic Photos and Facts to Know About the US Postal Service