5 Steps to Reduce Financial Stress
Step 1: Deal with physical symptoms of stress first
- Eat right – If your diet has been taken over by junk and comfort foods, make a commitment to re-establish a healthy diet.
- Start exercising – Exercise is a great way to burn stress, as well as calories.
- Speak with your doctor – Let him/her know about any physical issues you are having and help them understand the stress levels you are facing. Many providers offer virtual appointments.
Step 2: Address the emotional burden
- Talk to someone – Getting things off your chest is often the easiest way to reduce stress and start feeling better.
- Treat signs of addiction – People often fall into or fall back into bad habits when they are extremely stressed.
- Take time outs to recharge – Do something that will take your mind offof your finances for a few minutes. Letting yourself relax will make you more focused when you need to really get to work. Do this at least once each day.
Step 3: Get real with your finances
Now that you are more centered, start working to fix what is causing the stress. Organize challenges into groups. Chances are that a high level of financial stress has more than one source. With that in mind, you need to organize financial stressors into categories.
- Important, Changeable: These are the big things in your financial life that are contributing to your stress which can be solved by taking action.
- Important, Unchangeable: These are contributing factors that have led to your situation that you can not change.
- Not Important, Changeable. These are things that may be irritating you and adding to your stress level, but are not truly contributing factors.
- Not Important, Unchangeable: Again, these are often things that start to seem significant when we get stressed, but which really do not have any effect on your current situation.
Step 4: Get professional help
Once you have cut everything that either is not important or cannot be changed, you are left with the big things, which are true sources of your financial stress. Now find the right person to help you deal with each one of those factors.
- Credit card debt and general budget problems: Call a certified credit counseling agency to get a free consultation to review your options for debt relief, as well as to get a free budget evaluation to help you balance your expenses with your income.
- Mortgage challenges: Talk to a HUD-certified housing counselor in a one-on-one counseling session.
- Student loans: Visit StudentAid.gov to review your options for relief or talk to your loan servicer directly.
- Tax debt: Talk to a certified public accountant or tax professional to review your options. They can help arrange settlement plans with the IRS and even help with relief options.
- Medical debt: First, call the original healthcare provider directly – not the collector – to see if you can work out a payment plan.
Step 5: Recover with resilience
- Stick to your plans. Once you talk to the professionals and plans begin to fall in place, you should feel the weight of that stress start to lift. It is important to keep up with the solutions you have identified, even if they are tough.
- Realize nothing in credit lasts forever. You CAN recover and you WILL be able to get back where you want to be, it just takes patience and a clear path forward – both of which you have now!
- Accept that change is a part of life. Even significant changes that seem like the end of your world are just the start of something different. Let go and find fulfillment in exploring new opportunities.
- Be thankful. Find good in each day and focus on that as you continue to take one step at a time towards financial stability.
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