The holidays are officially over, and with them can sometimes come a tremendous amount of money-related anxiety. Overspending or the onset of tax season can spark extreme anxiety in many of us, causing a spike in depression and self-soothing behaviors that can derail our lives, including taking a toll on our health. High blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease have all been linked to financial anxiety.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Besides budgeting and finding extra sources of income, there are things you can do in the meantime to help soothe those feelings of panic to help return your body and brain chemistry to healthier levels:
Exercise and meditation – You probably already know about the healing, health-boosting benefits of these two practices, and you might think you don’t have time, but you do. Studies have shown that a few minutes of either can lower blood pressure, boost serotonin levels, and create an overwhelming sense of calm. For those of us who wake up anxious with a list of worries racing through our heads, this is critical. Take the stairs, add a walk before dinner, set aside just five minutes in the middle of the day to sit in silence – every little thing counts.
Set your finances on auto-pilot – Most financial experts like David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, agree that making saving as easy as possible is the best way to start building a cushion. Pay yourself first by automating your savings. Even small amounts add up over time. Also, put down the credit and debit cards: use cash for as many things as you can. If you have to part with the physical money, it tends to slow the spending. Finally, make a budget, stick to it, and pay your credit cards down as quickly as possible.
Reward yourself – Effort without reward feels like punishment, so be sure to reward your hard work! Bake your favorite cookies, treat yourself to a movie, give yourself a bubble bath and manicure – anything to which you can look forward after what feels like a sacrifice will just reinforce positive behavior. It can also reduce anxiety.
Make some art – Do you remember how soothing it was to color or play with Play-Doh as a child? That doesn’t need to stop as an adult. The rise of adult coloring books are proof that many others are using coloring as a means to alleviate stress, and they’re quite affordable and available. Sculpting clay, knitting, woodworking, model airplanes, drawing – art soothes the mind, body, and soul. Try it.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude – It might sound trite, but it’s impossible to be anxious and grateful at the same time. Or angry. Or fearful. Gratitude is Mother Nature’s giant anxiety and fear eraser, and if you feel blessed with what you have right now, even if you’d rather be in different circumstances you can learn to relax and appreciate what you have now. After all, the only way to move forward is to start where you are right now. Enjoy where you are.