Stressed about Money? Here are 8 Tips to help you cope with Debt Depression.
Financial stress over debts is very dangerous and can cause anxiety, depression, raise blood pressure, or lead to insomnia or substance abuse. In this stage of the debt acceptance cycle consumers are confronted with the reality of their financial situation and the choices that have led them to this predicament.
It is indicative of hopelessness and desperation. Experts say that depression fuelled by financial anxiety is both common and crippling as consumers are unsure of who to reach out to for help. This is because of a lack of financial education, as well as a lack of awareness of the debt management solutions available to consumers.
Often at this stage, the consumer spends the majority of their salary towards debt, which is demotivating and makes it hard for the consumer to keep up with monthly living expenses.
Some studies have even found the mental stress of debt closely mirrors the stages of grief.
- In the denial stage, you want nothing more than to bury your head in the sand and pretend your student loans don’t exist.
- Next might come anger, however irrational. You might feel angry at your school, your lender, society, and even yourself for taking out these loans in the first place.
- You might experience feelings of bargaining, promising yourself you’ll never take out a loan ever again. If only you could win the lottery so you could just quit working, period.
- Then comes depression, that feeling of pure defeat. I’ll never get out of debt anyway, you tell yourself, and so what’s the point? Why even keep working hard at my job if the money I make just goes straight to paying back my debt?
- What can you do realistically do to feel better? How can you be happy without putting your life and career goals on hold?
Here are eight constructive ways to deal with the effects of Debt Stress or Depression & Anxiety.
- Get to the root of your money problem — and let it go.
By this we mean, sometimes strong feelings about money are rooted in something much deeper, sometimes stemming from your childhood.
It’s worth doing the work to examine the feelings and reactions that are fuelling your stress and behavior (avoidance, overspending, or something else) so you can regain control and start to untangle yourself from the emotional mess of debt.
- Face the reality of your situation, even if it upsets you.
For example, if it looks like you’re going into debt, get advice on how to prioritize your debts. When people feel anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others. Some people can lose their confidence in driving or traveling. If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will generally make them easier.
- Own your choices.
If this piece of advice sounds like tough love, well, it is.
You have the option of mentally owning your choice and saying to yourself, “I’m proud that I’m taking responsibility for my actions.” It’s a great example of how cognitive reappraisal and a growth mindset can have a powerful impact, motivating you to take action instead of wallowing.
- Create order out of chaos to feel in greater control.
Money shame leads to avoidance. That might mean never looking at your loans or bothering to understand your interest rates, options for repayment or how to go about consolidating or getting counseling. You might have no idea what you owe in total because you’ve chosen to bury your head in the sand (remember the denial stage of grief?).
In reality, information can actually be a stress reliever because it puts the worst-case scenario that’s keeping you up at night into perspective. It robs worry of its power over you.
For example, we had a client who had your situation. Her concern began spiraling out of control. Fear of losing her job morphed into ending up on the street, completely unable to pay back her R180 000.00 in loans and credit cards. When we had her take one step to gather information about her financial situation it made all the difference.
For you, that may mean simply making a call to your credit provider when you never have before. Or creating a spreadsheet of the interest rates for your different loans across providers.
Outer order can create inner peace. It helps make sense of the chaos.
- Move away from the tunnel vision of a scarcity mindset so you can identify opportunities to make more money.
When you’re worried about money and feel your options are limited, that fear acts like cognitive blinders. You start assessing situations in a protective way, missing opportunities or chances right in front of you.
Let’s say you decide to put even more effort into saving and cutting corners. Especially if you’re already astute about your finances and scrambling to do everything you can, asking yourself to be even more stringent with your money can feel impossible or may even backfire. You may find yourself thinking thoughts like, “I worked hard! I deserve this fancy dinner!”
The shift here is to move away from the “tunnel vision” of a scarcity mindset and scan for opportunities to earn more. For example, if you’ve been at a job for a while, consider approaching your boss for a raise. Or you might renegotiate an agreement with a freelance client based on the stellar results you’ve been generating for them. Earn more, then sock away all the extra cash to repay your loans.
Feeling like you’re pushing yourself to grow professionally and making inroads with your loans? That’ a win-win.
- Prioritize your financial well-being.
When you act out of fear, desperation, and shame, you’re more likely to make unwise choices. Putting yourself in a place of psychological safety, then, is vital to your success.
- To avoid future debt, be mindful of the link between happiness, sadness, and shopping.
Once people achieve a sub-goal, like paying off a single debt, they might celebrate and relax in their pursuit of the larger, overarching goal, like getting out of debt.
In other words, once you see a zero on your credit card statement, you might be tempted to put a new TV or an airplane ticket on your Visa.
Or perhaps one day, you’ll find yourself bummed out over something else and indulge in a little “retail therapy” to feel better.
Shopping can be an effective cure for sadness. It restores a sense of personal control over one’s environment.
Either way, whether happy or sad, the day will come when you want to buy stuff because it feels good. By all means, shop away, but avoid purchases you can’t pay for in full. Because if you find yourself back in debt, the cycle of anxiety and depression will start all over again.
- Contact an Expert
If you find yourself struggling with your debt repayments and have sleepless nights and can no longer deal, allow us to help you.
REMEMBER….. Commit to stop obsessing over numbers, take control of the things you can change and don’t wait until your debt is repaid to enjoy your life.
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