It’s fair to say that when we are in the eye of the storm experiencing full on financial anxiety we can feel like our world is ending and panic setting in can be very uncomfortable to say the least!

I can vividly remember my first financial anxiety episode.  It was 1988 (I was 17 years old).  I opened a credit card bill and the minimum payment was more than I could afford.  I stared at the statement, my body starting to sweat, my heart pounding, feeling flush.  Thinking “oh no, oh no, oh no” – actually I probably thought “shit, shit, shit!”  I felt ashamed, guilty, stupid and was really angry at myself.  I was embarrassed but I went to my parents and explained what had happened.  They didn’t know I even had a credit card!  Yet my mum looked at me and said “look, breathe – things could be worst – you’ll get through this uncomfortable situation and make sure you learn from it.”  In my 50s and I still remember my mum’s calm demeanour in this situation.

The simple act of focussing on breathing often helps calm the monkey mind and racing heart to mindfully observe the situation in the present, with curiosity and without judgment.

Although simple, it’s not necessarily easy yet with practice, you can learn to cope while you are dealing with your finances and gaining financial wellness.

Stressing will not make it better. 

Your physical reaction is a direct link to your thoughts so once you have worked on your breath and feel calmer, pause what you are doing and take some time for a timeout.  Take a walk or put on some music and dance – move that adrenaline out of your body so to speak.  Get present – what you are imagining has not happened.

Reflect back and see if you remember your thoughts – in this instance, do not treat as facts but just as an observer.  Write it all down – everything.  Get it out of your head.  We often project worst case scenarios onto our situations and these thoughts rarely make it into reality.

And whilst you ultimately want to transform your financial wellness so that you never have to experience a financial anxiety episode, on your way there, this tool can help.  I’ve had many episodes since that first one, but stress never goes away.  Some stress can be good, especially as you get more savvy with your money, you can take more calculated risks which can create anxiety in the short term.

Hydrate – Water can help you recalibrate your emotions.  We are mostly made of water.  Replenish your reserves.

“Studies have shown that being just half a litre dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson, RD, director of performance nutrition at Athletes’ Performance, a trainer of world-class athletes.

“Cortisol is one of those stress hormones. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that,” Carlson tells WebMD.  Whilst your financial issues will not disappear, good self care and maintenance means you’re not adding to your situation.  You need to be well in order to continue your transformation with your finances.

Declutter – Take time to clear your surroundings.  Clutter causes stress and whilst pristine environments can be off putting too, you want your home/room/private space to be as much of a sanctuary as possible.  There is a saying that how you organise your wallet, your car and your home is how you organise your life.

Practice Hygge – Hygge is a Danish term meaning to give courage, comfort and joy – to make special.  My thoughts about myself describing how I felt during my first financial anxiety episode is telling.  My self esteem was low.  I was using my credit card to spend money on clothes, meeting friends, buying them meals and drinks creating an image that I had money.  To the me back then, I was keeping up appearances to show off to my friends!  Giving courage, comfort and joy – to make special can come in many free forms.

Knowing who you are, your values and what you stand for can help pull you away from feeling financial anxiety.  Creating a vision board is also helpful to keep your focus towards the you that you are becoming.

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