If you are like most people, you are feeling the effects of the economy. The fears of a failing economy, fallen house prices, banks going out of business, and high gas prices cannot be alleviated by an “economic rescue package.”
What most people are needing is instead, a “mental health rescue package.” My private practice has never been busier and the issue du jour is anticipatory anxiety over an uncertain financial marketplace.
Perhaps our parents and grandparents can remember days gone by of soup kitchens and people throwing themselves out of tall buildings because of the depression. I don’t know if we are not that far off from similar desperate measures due to desperation in these frantic times. Certainly, my associates are seeing more depression and signs of helplessness and hopelessness with their clients. If managing stress was the buzz before the economic downturn, it is most definitely needed in today’s financially disastrous times.
Some people get confused with the differences between pressure and stress. Pressure is what is happening to you, while stress is how you react to those pressures. Stress is composed of the thoughts that we believe are happening, although there is not always any reality related to those thoughts. For example, you may have a boss that is in a bad mood but you instantly believe he is going to fire you and that may not be necessarily true. Therefore, be careful what you think because that may be what is causing you unnecessary stress in your daily life.
There are various different types of stressors such as financial stress, marital stress, mental, and physical stress. The following are tips to help you cope with the various stress plaguing your serenity and peace of mind.
Try to do an assessment of where you stand financially. Ask yourself where is your money? Do you need assistance from a trusted financial advisor?
Limit your exposure to media coverage about the failing economy.
Make sure that all your bank accounts are covered by the FDIC – Federal Deposit Insurance insures deposits up to $100,000.00.
Be extra wary of financial scams that promise instant high returns.
Talk with your creditors if you are having trouble making your monthly bills and ask if they can be made into smaller payments.
Learn if there are financial assistance programs available to you such as Federal and state programs.
Before you get married, made sure you share similar values around financial issues such as investments, vacations, keeping a budget, and standard of living goals.
Decide if it is more conducive to have separate or joint accounts. For marriages later in life, separate accounts can protect the assets you have accumulated before you got married.
Figure out who is going to pay the bills and how you want to divide them.
Don’t make impulsive decisions without communicating with your partner. Remind each other you are in this together.
Don’t do the escape and avoidance tactic because most likely you will incur more debt.
Don’t keep secrets about how you both are spending and earning your money because this will erode trust.
Stop bailing out your grown children because this only enables their irresponsible behavior.
Don’t use buying something new as a way to improve your mood. Ask yourself if you really need the item?
Try to get perspective on your thoughts and beliefs around money so that you have more clarity.
Avoid compulsive and addictive behavior to cope with your financial problems such as substance abuse, compulsive shopping, gambling, or sex addiction. If you find yourself in trouble with any addictions, seek the proper help.
Don’t compare yourself to what others have. You really don’t know what is going on behind closed doors.
Learn to let go of what you cannot control. Freedom begins when we begin to understand what we can and cannot control.
Take brisk walks.
Meditate focusing on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Laugh. It does wonders.
Tense and relax various muscle groups.
Use guided visualizations to invoke all your senses.
Take a personal day off from work to just get out of the “doing” and get into the “being.”
Although we are powerless over what goes on in certain outside aspects of our financial lives, there are some things we can control when it comes to our financial success. Remember most financial crises are temporary and that when we are in deep fear, it is most likely un-founded, but only feels real in the moment. If we can reframe our negative thoughts to positive ones, our fears lessen allowing us to make better financial decisions today for a more thriving tomorrow.