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3 Ways to Handle Financial Stress

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.” – P.T. Barnum

Financial stress can occur at any time no matter your status. It might be an unexpected bill, a derailed insurance claim, or a fight with a spouse over financial priorities.

In my experience, money isn't the culprit. Instead, it's the emotional and/or practical challenges a financial stressor can mean. For example, this month I've been caught in an insurance nightmare, trying to get timely care. Unfortunately, my insurance plan requires me to stay in network and is denying referrals even though it's impossible to get the appointments I need. Do I pay for services I need now or wait for months to be seen?

Stress levels have been at a 10 while I navigate the complexities of health care which seems a mess today with rising costs and limited access to care. If you haven't experienced this yourself, ask a friend or family member. Chances are they have their own story to tell along with the stress caused them and their loved ones.

3 Ways to Handle Financial Stress
Deep breathing can help turn on your frontal lobe

This is why I'm offering three tips for handling the stress that can arise around difficult financial matters.

Handling Financial Stress Tip #1

Focus on the facts.

If you find yourself spinning into an emotional state, take a deep breath and then write down the facts in simple black-and-white terms. The facts -- in my case -- were that my current insurance carrier didn't have an in-house doctor who could treat my symptoms for another three months. My response to those facts was frustration, outrage, fear, and disappointment.

Though I was stressed, the facts weren't going to change. It was up to me to sort through my emotions and to give myself time to consider the alternatives and get help to understand what those might be.

Handling Financial Stress Tip #2

Engage your frontal lobe.

The frontal lobe of our brain is the part that controls reasoning, social understanding, executive functions, and voluntary movements. The lizard brain is the flight or fight center designed to get us out of harm's way.

If you want to handle financial stress with your best tools, you want to try calming exercises like deep breathing to engage the part of your brain that will serve you best in the circumstance. If you're still feeling emotional, give yourself time to calm your body even though it may seem impossible or difficult at the time. It will serve you best. Most situations offer a grace period.

Handling Financial Stress Tip #3

Find the gift and opportunity.

You might think I've gone off the deep end by suggesting that you try to find the gift or opportunity of the current situation. Oddly, this can help to reframe what's going on. In my case, I felt pressed to find anything positive from the past few weeks. However, once I looked for gifts and opportunities, I found myself able to receive offers of help and I now know critical information I can pass along to others who may be opting into a similar situation without knowing.

Though I never wish financial stress on anyone, remember that stress is often created by our response to circumstances. We can always choose Positive Money which is the first principle. With this choice comes the opportunity to decide how I want to feel moving forward. I admit that shaking off the emotional impact can be tough. However, it may be all we have if we want to move on.


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