Financial Anxiety: How to "Stop" Worrying about Money

Erika Barr, LMHCA on Oct 06, 2022 in Mood and Feelings

Are you having a hard time overcoming persistent worries about your financial future? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

Worrying is a natural response to a challenge or threat. Our worried thoughts can help prepare us to face these challenges or they can cause us to overreact to the point of anxiety and panic.

That said, worry is a survival instinct, so expecting ourselves to “stop” worrying all together will result in disappointment.

So what is the solution to overcoming financial anxiety?

The answer…

Worry better. And I’ll teach you how.

Make friends with worry

Imagine yourself in a tug-of-war match. You’re holding one end of the rope and your worried thoughts are holding the other. As you start pulling against your thoughts, you find that they start pulling harder back. Your thoughts become stronger and stronger the more you fight against them. But what if you drop the rope? What if you stop fighting your worried thoughts and let them be? Once you drop the rope, your thoughts no longer have a hold on you, and you’re able to move about the rest of your day. Soon you’ll make friends with your worried thoughts and have them work for you, not against you.

Reframe worry as productive, not destructive

When it comes to financial stress, worried thoughts are often triggered by events that put your financial security into question, like the stock market crashing or being let go from a job. When these thoughts are left to their own devices, they can progress into full-blown anxiety. If we can change our perceptions of situations around us, we can minimize the potentially destructive effects of worry. Instead of perceiving the stock market crash as a threat, we could see it as an opportunity. Our natural worry response can be used as a motivator to make positive lifestyle changes, like setting a monthly budget or eating out less. Worry doesn’t have to be a gateway to anxiety. With a slight perception change, worry can be useful.

Focus on what is under your control

This last one may seem obvious, but it can get lost in the commotion of a worried thought spiral. Spend your energy focusing on what is under your control rather than worrying about what you can’t change. Examples of what is NOT under your control: inflation, stock market fluctuations, and company-wide layoffs. Examples of what IS under your control: budgeting, smart investing, searching for higher paying jobs, and most importantly, your own emotional responses.

Worry is an ally, not an enemy. Financial anxiety is out. Productive worry is in.

Erika Barr is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate Website

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