Few sources of stress are as physically, mentally, and emotionally draining as worrying about money. When you’re struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, watching debt pile up, and seemingly unable to ever stop and take a minute to catch your breath, the effects can be devastating.
Chronic pain, trouble sleeping, getting sick more often, mood swings, anxiety, tension, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and other symptoms of financial stress can make every day really hard. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to cope with stress, even when the financial circumstances causing it aren’t resolved, and you don’t have to spend anything on them.
1. Think Differently
Sometimes, the toughest thing to do is adjust your attitude, but you have to do it to change how you feel. If you obsess on problems and dwell on negative thoughts, stress just grows. It’s unrealistic to expect to completely escape thoughts about tough problems, but you can change the way you think about them. Find a positive spin. For example, instead of thinking, “I’ll never make more money,” think “I want to increase my income, and will find a way to do that.”
2. Stop Thinking You’re a Failure
Beating yourself up about your situation doesn’t do anyone any good. It only makes things worse. Most people experience financial difficulties and plenty of stress to go with them. Most people even make some bad decisions that contribute to their struggles. These are not signs of failure, but part of the human experience. Success lies in resolving to improve ourselves.
3. Recognize that You’re in Control
Feeling out of control about finances is a huge part of the stress. Remind yourself that you have control over your money and your life. Whether it’s finding ways to cut spending, making a repayment plan to reduce debt, or even deciding to splurge on a treat for you or your family, realizing your power over your life is a big step toward stress relief.
4. Get Some Exercise
Physical activity—whether it’s a walk, a jog, a swim, weight lifting, or anything else—is a powerful stress buster. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you get some enjoyment from it, and it doesn’t take a gym membership. Of course, it’s good for your general health, too.
5. Swap Massages with Your Partner
Massage therapy is a highly effective stress remedy, but you’re probably not looking to shell out for a rub-down. It doesn’t take a professional massage to experience serious stress relief, though; a Google search for how to give a massage provides all the instruction you and your partner need to loosen each other up and chill each other out.
6. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Mediation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and dozens of other relaxation techniques are easy to learn and perform every day, and they can do wonders for melting away stress. There are plenty of resources online (here’s a good one to start with) for learning how to do these techniques. It may take some trial and error to find the ones you like best and that work best for you, so stick with it.
7. Schedule Some Time for You
Even if it’s just 10 minutes early in the morning or at the end of the day, there’s not much that’s more important to your mental health over the long run than taking a little daily time that’s just yours. Do anything relaxing that you like, whether it’s sitting outside, taking a bath, reading something, doing some stretches or your meditation, or something else.