Does the thought of personal finance leave you feeling anxious? You’re not alone. Anxiety doesn’t care if you have lots of money or not enough money. People at all stages of wealth can - and do - feel anxious about their money. Sometimes it’s because you don’t have enough to cover rent this month. Other times it’s because of the messages we received and internalized as children. It can be a combination of many things, too.
Regardless of the roots, there are a few things you can do today to help calm those anxious thoughts feelings. Helping to calm your system clears space for you to respond to your present situation in a way that is most helpful to you at this particular time.
Structure helps. Close your eyes and imagine a building with scaffolding around it, supporting the construction going on to rebuild, repair or improve it. Now, imagine your personal economy as that building. It might need some scaffolding right now. That’s ok. So, let’s build it! The next three steps will help you begin to build.
Pick a time. Open up your calendar and pick a date and time once or twice a week when you can sit with your budget and bank accounts. These are called money dates.
Get specific. Date, time, location … include any specific details to help you visualize what these money dates will look like. Write out your plan.
Breathe. When it’s time for your money date, close your eyes and settle into a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes and take 3 slow, deep breaths. Then, sit in silence for a minute and just notice if there’s any tension in your body and where it’s sitting. Move your body as necessary to relax those areas. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Now you’re in a better state of mind to take a look at those numbers.
Will this exercise completely eliminate your anxiety? No. But practiced consistently over time, it will help you calm yourself when anxiety arises. Step 4 described above is essentially a form of meditation. Meditation is one of the best ways to let your brain and your body know that everything is going to be ok.
Think of your anxiety as an alarm system (see book of the month below). You feel anxious about money because your brain perceives a threat – real or imagined (or a combination of both). And because of this perceived threat, your body is responding with flight, fight or freeze reactions to keep you safe.
Your breath is one of the best tools you have to bring calm to your anxious thoughts and feelings. Take the power of your breath one step further and use a technique from the discipline of mindfulness meditation to bring awareness to your thoughts and feelings. Notice them. And then, choose to let them go.
Visualize your thoughts as clouds moving through the sky. They just keep floating by – they don’t need to stay with you. You also don’t need to judge those thoughts. Just notice them and let them pass. Do this short practice before each money date and you will begin to notice an increased sense of calm the more adept you become at this meditation practice.
Stay tuned for an invitation to a live mindfulness and money class! Registration will be limited so once it’s full, it’s full. We’ll dive deeper into how the practice of mindful meditation can assist you in your personal finance journey.