If you’re stressed about your financial situation, if you’re worried about covering your expenses from week to week and month to month, if you’re fretting about your employment status or about finding work after losing your job, if you’re concerned about your health and anxious about what the future holds, you are not alone.
Pervasive feelings of concern, worry, stress and anxiety have accompanied the coronavirus outbreak. And for many people, the source of these feelings goes well beyond financial issues.
Anxiety about finances, health and the like can produce a sense of inertia, an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that can lead to inaction. This inaction can cause a person to lose a grip on their day-to-day financial responsibilities, as well as their big-picture financial goals.
On the household front, taking aim at potential sources of financial anxiety with small but meaningful steps is key to relieving pressure and maintaining a firm handle on your finances. Here are some suggestions from financial planners around the country:
- Start with some deep breathing. Spend a few minutes focused just on breathing from the base of your belly, up, then slowly out. A brisk walk, jog, run, meditation, yoga or some other form of exercise also helps to relieve stress and reframe mindsets to make you feel better about things.
- Prioritize what is most important to you financially in the short term. Is it debt reduction? Reducing household spending? Finding a job? Applying for some form of government relief? It probably won’t be possible to attack everything at once, so pick what matters most to you.
- Visualize what success will feel like. Mentally go into the future and experience the other side of accomplishing your goal. The more real you make that feeling on the other side of the goal, the higher your likelihood of success – so don’t just say you want to get out of debt, go there in your head. How does that feel? Embrace that positivity!
- Reward yourself for successes. An action plan with steps gives you a manageable way to reach your goals and plenty of opportunities to celebrate small wins along the way. Be sure to reward yourself (and others in your household) for achieving a goal or taking an important step toward that goal.
- Regularly unplug from media. The constant stream of news and opinion about the pandemic, both positive and negative, can feed a person’s sense of powerlessness and anxiety. Tune out social media, television news, media pundits and other “noise” for significant periods of time. This will help you to be present in the moment, instead of living in the past or worrying about the future.
- Recognize that you have reasons to be grateful. Remember the good things you have in your life, including family, friends and a caring community. Show the people around you your gratitude, perform small acts of kindness for others and find ways to stay connected with people and causes you care about.
JASON E. SIPERSTEIN, CFA, CFP, is president of the Financial Planning Association of Rhode Island and president of Eliot Rose Wealth Management. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.