There’s no denying that money makes some people happier. But it also makes plenty of people regularly on edge and tightly wound. Between 75–90 percent of all visits to primary care doctors are for stress-related medical issues. While more than money surely factors into these unwanted emotions, money appears to be a central theme.
Dr. Arta Bakshandeh, a senior medical officer in Los Angeles, explained to Fox News that money is at the root of the majority of his patients’ stresses, causing headaches, elevated blood pressure, ulcers, depression, and moderate-to-severe anxiety.
Surprisingly, even comfortable and high-earners aren’t immune to financial stress. But for those without insurance, stress-related health issues are often ignored or treated out pocket at the doctor—the latter possibly conflicting with the stress treatment in itself.
Because financial anxiety and stress are personal, affecting unemployed, underemployed and all others throughout the income spectrum, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, explore these strategies on how to curb financial anxiety and stress to see what works best for you.
Essential Way to Curb Financial Anxiety and Stress
The troubling thing about financial anxiety and stress is that it’s a constant. Because money is such a centerpiece in our society, you don’t even need to think negatively to trigger money-related stress. Per U.S. News & World Report, meditation has a moderate but apparent effect on reduced stress and improved concentration, self-awareness and happiness. A big reason for this is because mediation (and stronger self-awareness) which gives us more control over our constant impedance of distracting internal thoughts.
Meditation also makes us more in tune with our minds and bodies. We’re more likely to take care of ourselves, recognizing ailments and conditions our stressed-out selves might not have been able to pinpoint. Without meditation, we’re less disciplined and physically respond to anxious and stressful thoughts about money with bodily reactions. Our physical health pays a price for this over the long haul. Keep in mind that meditation isn’t a quick fix. Start with a couple-minute routine and extend your sessions over time as you feel your mind strengthening.
- Eat Well
A lot of what we deal with mentally and physically can be tied back to our diets. While it’s obvious that eating McDonald’s and eating kale will lead to profoundly different mental and physical states, some simple rules can drastically improve your day to day. Per EverydayHealth, eating complex carbs, whole grain breads and cereals, protein for breakfast, limiting alcohol and coffee, as well as staying hydrated goes a long way in curbing anxiety. Additionally, chocolate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, tryptophan and low-glycemic foods help boost moods.
- Exercise Regularly
Not only are we burning calories, raising our heart rate and building muscle when we exercise, we’re also releasing endorphins which, according to Dr. Bakshandeh, lowers our blood pressure and depressive symptoms to make us feel better. Start an exercise habit of at least four times a week at 30 minutes per session and monitor how your daily stress and anxiety levels respond.
Additional Strategies for Financial Wellness
- Spend Modestly During the Holidays
It might seem contradictory to advise giving less as a means of attaining wellness, but hear me out. Whether we look forward to the holidays or not, they happen. Between friends, family, a significant other and the various events that bring everyone together — money and bonding time are the only common denominators. And because we’re spending time with people we love, it’s even easier to listen to the budget devil over the budget angel.
Fast-forward to New Year’s Day and your already thin finances are obliterated. Financial thought leaders like Andrew Housser preached the importance of conservative holiday spending in his 2017 personal finance advice memo to consumers. Forecast your holiday engagements for meal, transport and possible lodging costs. Also figure out how many people you’re giving gifts to, so you don’t lose sight of your overall holiday budget.
- Delete Shopping Apps
Our present-day society of speedy internet and convenient mobile devices affords us all sorts of luxuries. However, having anything we could reasonably want accessible within our fingertips can easily backfire. Shopping apps are a perfect example of this, with their invasive push notifications trying to re-engage shoppers, and email blasts offering what feels like big discounts.
The worst part is that all it takes is a few taps to break our willpower. If your phone has a number of different shopping apps on it, ask yourself the last time you bought something you really needed on any of them. After a few weeks not being notified continuously and tempted to shop, you’ll feel much more at peace.
- Budget Quarterly
Whether you’re a high-earner or just getting by, a budget can go a long way in easing financial anxiety and stress. The tricky thing, however, is that it can also do the opposite. The difference lies in how the budget is crafted and adhered to. If you’re tracking every purchase and writing things down in a notebook, sure, you’ll have a clear sense of where your money is going. You’ll also drive yourself crazy.
Set quarterly budget amounts by looking at past spending and doing a little math. Instead of tracking your daily purchases, use different cards for different types of purchases. For example, you could have a credit card that rewards gas or grocery fill-ups. Have cash on hand for any meals you eat out. Automate monthly debt, savings and investment contributions. Be strategic with how you pay for things and you won’t have to waste time balancing a confusing budget.
While there’s not one way to curb financial anxiety and stress, that doesn’t mean you can’t have great success with one or a combination of methods that quell the source of yours.