We all want to reduce stress, and slashing financial stress is often at the top of the list.
In our constant pursuit to reduce stress, many people focus first on the things they can see. When we feel stressed, we can feel like we’re carrying a backpack loaded with bricks.
We may find that we do the things we’ve always done. We sit at the kitchen table and crunch the numbers one more time. We do mental calculations while doing the dishes. We try to pinch and save…but maybe there is a better way.
The Mayo Clinic offers a 4-step strategy for coping with stress, called the 4 A’s. The A’s stand for Avoid, Alter, Accept and Adapt.
This can be a path to finding relief and reducing financial stress, faster than you may have imagined.
Avoiding The Stress
Avoiding financial stress means rearranging your approach to it. This is how to lighten the load. While working to protect your family’s finances, a great first step is to avoid stressors.
• Avoid Temptation. Don’t go to the mall, fancy stores, or online shops where you know you’ll be tempted to buy more than you need.
• Avoid Ruminating. Say ‘no’ to spending your weekend worrying about money. Choose to do something more enjoyable: gardening, walking in nature or playing with your children.
• Focus on Your Top Priority. Prioritize your financial actions into the top, medium, and low. Only focus on the top ones.
Alter The Situation
How can you alter the situation? Take an inventory. When you have the big picture, it’s easier to figure out your best actions. With the overview in hand, you can start improving it.
• Get an Overview. If you’ve got multiple accounts, bills, and cards – get an overview. Take a complete inventory of your current situation.
• Manage your Accounts. Look for where you can get services for free.
Check out different accounts such as a free checking account, a savings account, and debit cards with benefits.
• Communicate Openly. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Speak openly to your partner, spouse, and family to get on the same page.
Accept The Moment
Accepting is not the same as ‘settling’ or ‘giving up.’ Accepting is more about being truthful with what is going on in the moment. You can strengthen this by taking action.
• Talk Openly. If you express your feelings, you may not change the external situation, however, you often will feel better. You can get some objective feedback from a close friend or relative.
• Find The Silver Lining. As human beings can learn from our situations.
We may find that there is a ‘silver lining’ when we look for what we can learn from a situation.
• Be Gentle. Being kind, gentle, and tender is a gift you can give to yourself. It is a way to free yourself from stress. You may not have all the answers. You may not know exactly what to change. Yet, you can hold yourself with kindness and reduce self-inflicted stress.
Adapt To Now
Experts in stress reduction note that ‘thinking you can’t cope is one of the greatest stressors.’ What is adapting? It is adjusting your standards or expectations. This can be one of the most useful and effective ways to reduce stress.
Adapt Your Standards.
Do you have a standard for how much you need to buy, spend, or shop each week? If so, you may find a sense of relief by redefining your standards. Buying less could help you feel lighter.
Spending less may help you feel more in control. Shopping less often could help you find a new level of appreciation for what you have.
While ‘mindfulness’ is a popular term, it is not always the thing we remember when it comes to personal finances. How can you practice mindfulness? Increase awareness of your thoughts. Are you thinking gloomy thoughts that make you feel worse? If so, learn to distract yourself. Even 2-minutes of distraction can help you stop ruminating and shift your attention.
Practice Positive Self-Talk.
Create a saying to repeat to yourself.
You may want to start with something like, “I can handle this.” Adapt this so it is right for you. Mentally repeat it to yourself when you encounter tough moments.
Reducing financial stress can help you feel more at ease and able to protect your family. With these 4 powerful strategies, you can support balance and nourish well-being for your loved ones.