Most would agree that our world is choked with stress even in the best of times.
Now, volatile stock markets and rising interest rates threaten individuals with additional stress and anxiety as retirement savings and overall financial future may be perceived to be in jeopardy.
A new Australian study discovers money is often on the minds of most of us. In fact, money and work are two of the top sources of stress for almost 75 percent of the population, according to Australian Psychological Society President, Amanda Gordon.
“Like most of our everyday stress, this extra tension can be managed. Psychologists first recommend taking pause and not panicking,” says Gordon. “There are healthy strategies available for managing stress during tough economic times.”
The American Psychological Association recommends the following tips to help manage stress:
Pause but don’t panic. There are many negative stories in newspapers and on television about rising interest rates. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype, which can lead to high levels of anxiety and bad decision making. Avoid the tendency to overreact or to become passive. Remain calm and stay focused.
Identify your financial stressors and make a plan. Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities or credit card company.
Recognise how you deal with stress related to money. In tough economic times some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. The strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments between partners. Be alert to these behaviors – if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other professional before the problem gets worse.
Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change. Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities to take stock of your current situation and make needed changes. Try taking a walk-it’s an inexpensive way to get good exercise. Having dinner at home with your family may not only save you money, but help bring you closer together. Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through your employer or look into low-cost resources in your community that can lead to a better job. The key is to use this time to think outside the box and try new ways of managing your life.
Ask for professional support. Facing money troubles can be difficult, even embarrassing, but ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away usually means they get worse. Financial planners are available to help you take control over your money situation. If you continue to be overwhelmed by the stress, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your financial worries, manage stress, and change unhelpful behaviors.