Money can be a killer. Actually, it’s more of an accessory.
Financial worries are a leading cause of stress for Americans, and stress is a deadly contributor to innumerable health problems, including heart disease and cancer.
Obviously, then, it pays to reduce your stress levels, including those brought about by money-related issues.
Getting your finances in order is the best way to begin reducing money worries. Assess your current situation (how much debt to you really owe?), set some goals (pay off that debt, buy a house) and develop a plan to achieve your objectives. While the assessment process itself might be stressful, beginning to take charge of your money will bring a lasting reduction in your anxiety levels.
But the fact is, there’s always going to be some money-related stress in our lives, no matter how much we earn or how carefully we monitor our finances. So, here are some tips for managing that stress so you’re around long enough to enjoy the pay-off from your new financial strategy.
Move – Regular exercise is a proven stress-reducer. It prompts your brain to release endorphins, a natural painkiller and helps you sleep. Regular aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce tension and elevate mods. There is also evidence that making your body feel better helps our brain cells and structures better deal with the impact of stress and anxiety.
Sleep -- A good night’s rest is critical to stress management. Sleep is the time when our physical brains repair and recoup from the day’s activities and stress. Unfortunately, stress can prevent you from sleeping. If that’s the case, exercise, a change in your bedtime, and a limit on evening use of digital devices might help.
Hang With Friends – Spending time relaxing with others can take your mind off your troubles, or, alternatively, provide a sympathetic ear. Sometimes you just need to talk it out, right?
Eat Better – Many of us are stress eaters. The more worked up we get, the crappier our diet becomes. It should be the other way around. A healthy diet is proven to help your body better cope with stress. Foods high in Omega-3 fats are believed to be especially helpful.
Stop Worrying – Well, “stop” is kinda strong. Worry is wired into our brains, and in proper doses, is helpful in preparing us for the next challenge or opportunity. But too many of us are consumed by worry, which creates stress. One way to reduce worry: Analyze your thoughts and try to determine how much of the concern is fact-based and how much is perhaps coming from irrational fear and anxiety.
Get A Massage – A well-done massage can both relieve pain and release tension, helping your body and mind to relax.
Drink Tea – It offers many of the same qualities as coffee, including the caffeine, with the added benefit of reducing cortisol, a hormone released in stressful situations that can be harmful in excessive levels.
Meditate – Being totally in-the-moment with your mind undistracted is a powerful way to relax and recharge. Just a few minutes of such “mindfulness” can make a difference in your day. There are many good introductions to meditation, including the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Smile – Sounds silly, but research indicates that smiling actually can reduce your stress levels in tough situations. As an added benefit, it makes others feel good, too. So, as your grandma used to say, turn that frown upside down!
Listen To Music – What is it about music that connects with the human spirit? We may never know, but it offers some very concrete benefits, including lowering cortisol and blood pressure levels.