Things in the financial world are starting to look up for some people. Even though inflation is going crazy and housing prices continue to rise, there are signs that the economic distress that many people experienced during the pandemic shutdowns is starting to ease.
But what do you do if your situation isn’t improving? Many people have been able to save more over the last two years as pandemic shutdowns kept them from traveling and going out to eat, but for a significant number of people the hardships are just as real, if not worse, than during the pandemic. With the expiration of pandemic-related government benefits and the rising prices caused by inflation, financial instability is the reality of many people, one that can cause fear, anxiety and a sense of hopelessness.
Listen to this week’s episode of the rich & REGULAR podcast about some of the positive trends in money right now, and keep reading for some ideas to help if things aren’t so financially positive for you.
Take care of your mental health
Financial burdens can affect your health and well-being, especially when you feel like the only one struggling. While you may be happy for friends or family members who have gotten a new job or a raise, if you’re struggling, you might be embarrassed and think you’ll just be a downer if you tell people what’s happening. The link between mental health and financial struggles is real, and it’s vital to ensure that you take care of your mental health even as you work to overcome your financial struggles.
If thinking about your financial situation has your heart rate shooting up and your breath coming faster, take a deliberate moment to pause and take a series of deep breaths (just not so deep you get light headed). Doing so can help pull you out of the mental loop of seeing every financial setback as a catastrophe.
While things may be dim for you right now, taking a little time to breathe and get back on even footing can help you mentally prepare to go forward and start to work on the situation. You can’t fix your money problems overnight, but you can start getting on the right track by incorporating some of the following steps into your daily routine.
Acknowledge your problems
When you experience financial struggles, your first impulse might be to deny that there is anything wrong and carry on the way you always have. If you’ve recently experienced a job loss or sudden hardship, you might feel embarrassed to talk about your problems with friends and family.
While there’s no denying that financial struggle is hard, burying your head in the sand only leads to digging a deeper hole. Be sure to acknowledge the issues you have and don’t just brush them under the rug or try to downplay them when people ask how you’re doing. Most of us know that person who confuses complaining about their problems with taking action to fix their situation, but remember that it can be equally harmful to pretend that you don’t have any issues at all.
Find a balance between acknowledging and making peace with your situation and taking steps to improve your life.
Take a walk
If the anxiety and fear of your financial situation has you scared and hopeless, try taking a walk. Getting outside and moving your body, especially if you can get out into nature or even just away from city noise, can help improve your brain and give you some energy to work through your problems.
Walking has been shown to improve mental health and can help you to get out of your head and see new paths. While no amount of walking will help you find a job or pay off debt, a daily walk can help you keep your problems in perspective and increase your ability to see other options.
Ask for assistance
One of the hardest things to do when you’re struggling is to ask for help, but it can be one of the best ways to improve your situation. If you need support, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Talking about your problems can offer a sense of relief, and oftentimes solutions or new perspectives appear when we say things out loud instead of keeping them bottled up inside.
If you don’t have someone in your life that you can speak to, consider contacting a therapist who deals with financial problems. They may be able to provide resources you weren’t aware of and should know how to offer practical support.
Make a plan and keep it simple
As you develop a plan to overcome your hardships, whether you’re finding a new job, conquering debt or improving your life, do your best to keep things simple. It can be easy to overcomplicate debt pay off or job hunting by thinking too far ahead instead of identifying the next step and taking it.
Make the steps you need to take small and clearly defined so that you know when you’ve achieved them and can keep the momentum going from one task to another. Knowing that you’re putting in the work to improve your life and seeing the progress you’ve made can boost your confidence and help you keep going, even when things seem slow.
Anyone who has struggled with money in the past likely remembers both the hopelessness and the feeling that things will never improve no matter what you do. Those feelings can lead you to sit and wait for your problems to be fixed instead of taking action to help improve your situation. Taking time to ensure your mental health is solid before you begin to work on your financial problems can help you progress toward your goals faster.