Using Mindfulness to Aid in Financial Anxiety
All over the country there has been a rise in individuals dealing with anxiety and depression due to the high levels of stress associated with financial problems. This along with trying to keep up with our added spending during the holidays can cause some individuals to feel stuck and overwhelmed by their financial situation. When things start to go wrong, many people find themselves dwelling on the worst possible outcome. It is not abnormal, but there are a few steps that can be taken to help you regain balance in your life by using mindfulness.
- Notice where your mind goes. Are you stuck in regret or blaming others? Are you catastrophizing about the future? Learning to “decenter”: to realize that you can watch your thoughts and don’t have to believe them is one of the important skills to achieving mindfulness. When you notice a thought wishing the present moment were different, take a figurative step back and realize it is just a thought; you don’t have to believe it.
- Find ways to reconnect with positive aspects in your life, like your health, family, or faith. Often we dismiss expressing such appreciations by adding “Yes, but…..The “but” takes away any joy or satisfaction from things that are going well. Real life is good and bad, not just good but bad. If you don’t accept a certain emotion, you will likely justify it. “I have a right to feel sad, because……” And then you list all the bad things in your life. Will this make you feel better? Not likely! What started as justification of the emotion quickly leads to rumination. When you are sad, be sad! Don’t resist it and don’t justify it. You are allowed to be sad. Emotions really aren’t that bad. By not resisting or justifying your emotions, they resume a more normal flow from one another.
- Re-evaluate and do constructive planning and problem-solving. Mindfulness can help us see what is really happening and deal with it appropriately. Not being able to pay the bills might be a reality for you. So, minus the worry, anxiety, and recrimination, what are your options? How can you increase the money coming in and reduce the money going out? Perhaps you need to find another job, borrow money from friends or family, or sell some of your stuff. None of these actions are easy, but they might be necessary. Each time you mindfully let go of thoughts about how life should be, and enjoy life as it is, you change your brain. You strengthen nerve pathways that make the habit of mindfulness easier and easier. In essence, in every moment there is a choice. A choice to stay in the misery that you are currently experiencing or to choose to try something different. It is only when we recognize and accept our current circumstances are we then free to change it. “Choice equals Change.”
A wise man once said, “If all your problems can be solved with money, then you haven’t got any real problems.” I’m sure most of us could find exceptions to this rule, but he makes a good point. Money can’t buy you health, love or even happiness. It can buy you comfort, and that’s a lot, but it isn’t a replacement for physical well being or for people who truly care for you. So the next time you are feeling anxious about your financial situation remember to take stock of your emotional savings account and to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Article by Sara Hoffstot and Suzanne Rodgers of Living Well By Design.