Doggone Tired of Worrying About Money? Here's 4 Things You Can Do
By Laura Hull, LMFT
Disillusioned? Disgruntled? Doggone tired of worrying about financial issues, both of a personal nature and for the country as a whole? You are not alone…. There’s a choir of worrying handwringers waiting to join hands with you, while singing of the plight of “Gina and Tommy” in a verse of “Living on a Prayer” (80’s hair and all). As much as songwriters like to write songs about the romantic notion of “all you need is love” and “we’ll live on love”, the rest of us who live in the real world know all too well about the financial pain many are experiencing and the worry and fear that go along with it.
A government shutdown created by the bickering of those some would argue are fat cat politicians does not conjure up positive feelings or hopeful sentiment from a large population of people who are struggling financially in their day to day lives. While 800,000 government workers are seeing their pay cut or eliminated, the lawmakers in DC are still drawing their rather healthy incomes. This can create bitterness and resentment for those who are living paycheck to paycheck, and in some cases losing benefits that helped sustain their lives.
Even for those not directly impacted by the government shutdown, the long term economic woes in this country have landed many families in financial binds that are a breeding ground for stress and/or fear and its negative consequences. Many are unemployed or underemployed, with no foreseeable changes in sight that would address this hardship. It’s hard to stay positive and focus on the good in life when things feel dire for an extended period of time.
It’s admittedly hard to watch someone we care about struggle with financial issues and the fear and uncertainty that goes along with them. Telling someone “don’t worry…it will all be better eventually” when he/she doesn’t know how he/she will put food on the table is a bit like pitching someone a rock and telling him to make stone soup….you, while well intentioned in trying to bestow a ray of sunshine, might find yourself clobbered with your stone soup rock. Be sensitive to others emotional struggles and their sensitivities to their struggles. Don’t offer half-hearted sentiments/solutions that can come across as lightweight or contrived. People pick up on that quickly, and they really don’t appreciate it very much. Want to help? Listen. Just listen without being dismissive of their fears. Offer sincere compassion. People aren’t always looking for us to “fix their problems”. Sometimes people just want to vent. Sometimes people just want to be heard. I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to become someone’s verbal punching bag or puke bucket every time said person wants to lash out or spew his woes of life in your direction. Being present and supportive for those we care about is important, but we can’t allow their stresses to become ours in a way that has negative consequences in our own lives.
If you are struggling with the stresses of financial hardship, and if fear of the future is keeping you up at night, creating heightened anxiety, there are things you can do to take back some sense of control in the situation.
1. Take every opportunity to network with people. Get out of the house and interact with others. If you are looking for a new job, make some new connections. You never know when the person sitting next to you at the PTA meeting or at a volunteer situation may be in a position to help you connect with your next employment opportunity. Let others know your situation and ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of opportunities that might be a good fit for you. Do not let pride keep you from projecting an honest picture of your situation to others.
2. Control your stress and anxiety by taking care of yourself. Rest. DO NOT sit up until 3 am doing social media junk. If you are having trouble sleeping over an extended period of time, seek help in addressing this. Eat right. Exercise regularly, particularly when feeling depressed or anxious. Moderate to rigorous exercise for as little as 30 minutes has shown to boost the release of endorphins in the brain, which stave off depression and enhances feelings of wellbeing. Not feeling motivated? Make a promise to yourself to do it anyway. It helps. Taking care of you will reduce the likelihood of becoming both physically and emotionally ill. Becoming sick is the last thing that’s needed at a time like this.
3. Trim back expenses. Find ways to trim monies out of your budget. You may say, “I’ve already cut out all the extras and I still can’t make it work.” If you really have cut out the $4.00 cup of fru fru coffee, and scaled back on the extras, then it may be time to seek financial counseling. There are many organizations that help people learn to live on a new/reduced budget. Sometimes having a new set of eyes on your situation can bring suggestions you have not considered before. It’s worth trying. Many people have obtained their “financial freedom” by taking the advice of financial counselors.
4. Pray. This should be the thing we do first and the most anytime we are struggling with anything in our lives. Prayer is comforting. It is so wonderful to turn over our worries and fears to God. I can assure you that He is not going to drop a pot of money in your lap as soon as you say “Amen”. But there’s a lot of power in prayer. God hears us and loves us. He does and will take care of all our needs, in His time and in His way.
Always keep in mind that in the long run, all situations are fluid, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the present. Nothing stays the same. Just because things are tough now, and maybe have been tough for a long time, doesn’t mean it will stay tough. As long as we are doing the things we can do to help ourselves, we need to live and function under the assumption that things will get better eventually, because they often do. No one can predict the future, but it makes sense to live and move forward with the belief that the future hold good things. Why believe anything else? J