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3 De-Stressing Tips When You Feel Overwhelmed By Your Finances

August 09, 2023
mbg Beauty Director
By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and
Wellth Check
Image by Pedro Merin / Stocksy
August 09, 2023
A recent study by Guardian showed that financial health has the largest impact on overall well-being, when compared to emotional or physical health. And while money often leads to stress, it doesn’t have to. Just a little knowledge can cultivate your financial confidence, which can make a big difference when it comes to your overall well-being. We teamed up with Guardian to better understand and harness the connection between mind, body, and wallet™.

Money has quite the impressive ability to trigger a stress response, no? Studies and research show time and again that it's one of the most frequently cited reasons for anxiety. According to the most recent public opinion poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which is conducted annually, two-thirds of Americans count money as a major source of stress. 

That's a lot of folks who need a breather! 

But just as you can train yourself to be better at adapting to stress in your day-to-day life, you can reframe your relationship with finances so you are able to de-escalate anxiety in the moment, are more attuned to how money makes you feel overall, and ultimately make more clearheaded money decisions. 

Here, how to handle overwhelming feelings about finances: 


Address stress in the moment

Sometimes money stress comes out of nowhere—an unexpected big purchase or unanticipated change to your income. Sometimes money stress is sneakier, bubbling up in little ways—like when you need to check your bank statement or after a dinner that costs more than you anticipated. 

No matter how financial anxiety manifests in your life, it's important to establish a stress management practice that works for you. This can be anything from daily walks and regular meditation to therapy. 

Along with finding long-term habits that help manage your stress levels, we also recommend finding something you can utilize in the moment. For this, breathwork is an excellent resource. Research shows that mindful breathing has the ability to modulate the body's parasympathetic nervous system and reduce cortisol levels1

"Box breathing" (sometimes called the 4-4-4 method) is a simple technique to learn: "Start by releasing all of the air from your chest and hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds, then hold your breath for 4 seconds, then exhale out of the nose for 4 seconds," writes breathwork teacher Gwen Dittmar about the method. "If you can, repeat this cycle for 5 minutes to feel the effects."


Acknowledge & examine the feelings 

Lots of folks aren't taught how to deal with money—not to mention the myriad emotions that come with it! Plus, stress surrounding money can feel isolating, as often people feel like they're the only one going through it. But that's just not true. Ask almost any financial pro and they'll tell you: Everyone has some hang-ups around money. 

"These are hard, complex, uncomfortable feelings," financial therapist Bari Tessler tells mbg. "So, just acknowledging that, naming it, and letting yourself know that this is a normal feeling and you're not the only one who might feel this way—that's where you can start."

Now, what you do with this knowledge and acknowledgment will be dependent on your unique situation. (Financial wellness is exactly like wellness in that way: The best advice is highly personalized.) But you can't start the journey without establishing where you're at right now. 

If you're someone who finds tracking helpful, you may even consider starting a money diary. "I have a very basic spreadsheet I use to allocate cash and have a system that I do on the first and the 15th of every month," author Kelly Trach tells mbg. From there, you can add a section designated to evaluate how you feel about your purchase—was it necessary? Did it bring you joy? Or, do you regret spending money on it?


Don't be afraid to ask for help

You don't have to do this alone! It can be challenging to talk about money—and especially challenging when you're expressing stress around money—but there are folks who can help.

If you have friends or family you trust, you can start there. 

"Just as you are more likely to work out if you have an accountability or support buddy, you are also more likely to build a better relationship with your money if you have a friend or group of friends you can talk to about it," writes mbg financial contributor Brianna Firestone. "We don't think twice about talking about how our workout or therapy session went, but most of us wouldn't consider having an open dialogue about money hurdles, and a lot of our money stress stems from feeling alone. We can shift that by actually starting to talk about our money with trusted friends." 

But it's also important to utilize financial professionals when needed. Just like you'd call upon a personal trainer or nutritionist to help you with your well-being goals, you should be empowered to call upon financial professionals to give you advice and expertise on how to get to where you want to be. 

Guardian® is a registered trademark of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America.Mind Body Green is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Guardian.2023-156578 Exp. 6/25

Guardian supports your overall well-being across mind, body, and wallet™, our trademarked phrase covering mental, physical, and financial health. It is separate and not related to mindbodygreen’s name.

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