What is financial anxiety? Simple trade-offs for eliminating your anxiety around finances

Anxiety. We’ve all likely experienced feeling anxious at some point in our lives, after all it’s our body’s natural response to stress, and let’s face it, a life without stress is like a big night out without the hangover-pretty hard to come by.

What happens though when we allow that stress and anxiety to overwhelm us? Long-term anxiety increases the risk of physical illness and other mental health conditions such as depression. According to NICE , mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain -and that was before covid.

Anxiety can take form in many shapes and sizes and as the coronavirus epidemic drags on, bringing with it a tsunami of uncertainty to our lives. Many people have either lost their jobs, face losing their jobs or experiencing financial difficulties.

The anxiety around finance is arguably more prevalent than ever before and because of this, it too, is vital we address these anxieties, identify and understand what seems to be causing them as well as looking at the proactive steps we can take to tackle it.

Financial anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, or lack of ease about your finances. It can be caused by a number of different reasons such as generalised anxiety disorder and can present itself at any time. This could be waking up in a panic in the middle of night or getting distracted from focusing on your day-to-day activities due to overriding thoughts about money.

Trade-offs for eliminating your anxiety around finances

Do not avoid the situation. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to our finances and for those of us who bury our head in the sand in the hope our troubles will not bother us are sadly mistaken. Being in denial about your finances and reacting by not checking your bank account balance or not opening the brown envelope that just came through your door won’t help your situation and it sure as heck won’t make it go away.

What you will allow, is what will continue

-unkown

Do trade avoidance with acknowledgement. This is the first step in taking control, by being consciously aware you are proactively responding to the situation. It’s important that you ask yourself what about your finances you were avoiding in the first place. Was it debt? Saving for a house? Worrying how you’ll pay the rent? There are many reasons but you owe it to yourself to own up to the one that is bothering you. 

Do not be in denial about your situation. Once you’ve acknowledged what is causing your financial anxiety do not react by running away from it. If you do this, you will not be able to fix the problem and subsequently move forward but rather you’ll be stuck inside a vicious cycle of financial woe.

Do trade denial with acceptance. Accepting the problem means you are better placed to be proactive in your situation. Acceptance is a powerful antidote for denial and once we learn to accept our situations and what may come thereafter, only then can we begin to focus on being proactive.

Do not get a quick fix, such as take out a loan to pay off your debt, or turn to heavy alcohol consumption as a way of dealing with your emotions, these things won’t help you deal with your problems and could add to your stress. Overcoming a problem won’t happen overnight, it’s going to take time and you’ll likely have to become more competent with your finances rather than rely on these quick fixes, which are just temporary and inadequate solutions.

Things to consider:

  • Do not avoid and deny your situation
  • Do acknowledge and accept your situation
  • Avoid returning to old habits at all cost

Do trade quick fixes with commitment. This means committing yourself to solve the problem, not temporarily fix it but to really unearth and identify what that problem is and how’s best to proactively move forward. Financial stuff can be littered with fancy words and terms that most of us don’t really understand and that’s perfectly ok! This is why it’s important to educate ourselves on what those words actually means so we have a better understanding of what exactly it is.

Do not return to old habits. It’s vital you don’t regress back to your old habits because all your efforts would have been in vain and most crucial of all- your mental health will suffer. It’s very easy to fall back into old habits which is why it’s important to remain conscious of your financial decisions at all times.

Do trade old habits with new habits. Once you’ve committed yourself to solving your financial problem, you are investing in your ability to succeed in life. Rather than be reactive to your situation you are now proactive and subsequently have formed a good habit that will propel you forward in life rather than hold you back like your old habit once did.

Read more about mindfulness exercises for alleviating financial anxiety here.

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