“Stress? What’s stress? This year has been a breeze! I’m not stressed out at all,” laughs Julie Beckham, Financial Education Officer at Rockland Trust.
All joking aside, stress is very real. The latest American Psychological Association Stress in America survey revealed that more than half of Americans report that money and the economy are sources of stress.
How does stress impact behavior?
Most of us view stress as negative and when you add money into the fold it can make anyone cringe with stressful thoughts. However, stress is not all bad. At the right amount, some stress can be a good thing if it motivates positive actions or behaviors. Too much stress, however, can trigger your fight-flight-or-freeze reflexes. When you are highly stressed, you may find yourself making poor choices, withdrawing or engaging in other negative behaviors that spill into areas of your life.
The Psychology and Emotional Impact Of Money And Finances
How Can I Avoid the Pitfalls of Stress?
So, how can you manage stress and ensure it does not negatively impact your finances?
Julie shared four tips to help avoid the perils of stress:
Sometimes just noticing that you feel stressed gives you a moment to take a few deep breaths and center your focus. In fact, a certain level of stress may even HELP you focus. This “productive stress zone” is the place where you have enough stress to be at your energetic and motivated best, but not so much that it drains your energy.
Recognizing the internal and external stress factors that may push you beyond the optimized productive stress zone can help you to determine the best ways to either navigate those stressors, reduce them or harness them.
2. Set Boundaries
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn when to say yes and when to say no. There are internal and external pressures that may lead us to say yes to requests. Internal factors such as being agreeable and likable and external pressures such as deadlines and being seen as productive. This push to go above and beyond has its place, but it may not always be the best course of action for you if you’re stressed out.
One way to set boundaries is to ask yourself if a request or opportunity comes up; will it help your business grow or get you closer to a goal. Use that answer to determine if you should say yes or no. This step will help you manage your time and stress levels.
3. Find Ways to Keep Yourself Healthy and Relaxed
Incorporating exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene are all great methods for managing your stress. It can be easy to fall into routines, but it is important to remember to pursue activities that you like and that are relaxing.
These activities look different for everyone. It could be something creative, like art or photography; require focus, like jigsaw puzzles; or being active, like playing a recreational league sport. Giving yourself space to pursue your interests can give you avenues to reduce stress.
Social interaction is also an important tool that has many benefits, including stress relief. While social interactions look different right now by using video conferencing with co-workers, friends and family; getting creative and staying connected continue to be vital. You may even find yourself more energized after socializing.
Unfortunately many cope with stress in destructive ways. Over-spending, for example, can wreak havoc on your carefully calculated budget, pushing out a financial goal or milestone that leads to a cycle of even more stress.
We all have some form of an emotional relationship to money, and exploring how you feel about money and how it can help you work through stress related to finances. Rockland Trust’s podcast series No Shame In This Money Game is an example of a resource about money and the emotions tied to it.
Article That May Interest You: Does Spending Money on Experiences Really Make You Happy?
While financial planning does not eliminate stress, it may help you navigate it more effectively. Our bankers and financial advisors have worked with members of our local community on everything from prioritizing spending to buying a home to managing finances in retirement, including all events and milestones in between. Be sure to take advantage of resources like our Learning Center, which has helpful articles with advice, tips and tricks that can help you live your life the way you want to.
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