If there’s one word that can sum up 2020, so far, it’s stress. Because of the severe economic downturn brought on by COVID-19, many people around the world are carrying the heavy financial burden all by themselves. This is why we need to look not only after our physical wellbeing but also after our financial and mental health.

If you’re looking for ways to do it, we’ve listed some approachable ways you might want to try to beat financial stress during the pandemic. Before we get into that, let’s first define what it is.

What is financial stress?

Financial stress is the fear, anxiety, or worry that a person experiences over finances or other money matters. This is usually triggered by situations like the inability to pay off debt or high medical bills, having low savings rates, dealing with unexpected events such as losing a job or the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a lot more.

Common signs of financial stress

How do you know if you’re financially stressed? Here are a few signs you need to watch out for.

  • Relationship problems – You might find yourself arguing with your family or loved ones over simple things, including things that don’t even involve money.
  • Overdue bills – This is among the first signs that you’re having money problems. You’re probably struggling to make enough cash to cover your bills and they start to fall behind.
  • Stress eating – You tend to eat too much or too little to relieve stress—there’s no in-between.
  • Overspending – If some people eat to feel better, others buy stuff or look to retail therapy—excessively—to relieve financial stress. Kind of ironic, right?
  • Trouble sleeping – You might find it hard to get to sleep, stay asleep, or get back to sleep at night—to the point where even counting sheep won’t do any good (if that even works).
  •  Other physical manifestations – This includes feeling exhausted or fatigued, having an increased heart rate, and feeling restless or nervous, to name a few.

Another common indicator of being financially stressed is having anxiety and depression. This can lead to overthinking and even isolation—things that should be taken seriously, especially during this time.

Ways to beat financial stress

If you think you have any of the signs we mentioned, here are some practical and approachable ways you might want to consider to overcome financial burdens amidst the pandemic. 

1. Shift your focus

Once you’ve realized that there’s a problem, it can be really challenging to look at the brighter side of things—especially when you know that the things you’re going through are just beyond your control.

Here’s the thing: you can control your mind. In fact, you’re the master of it! This just means that you can control the thoughts that go in and out of it. So whenever you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, shift your attention right away to the things that actually matter, like your physical and mental health.

Why not try to eat healthy meals, start working out, read books, binge-watch TV shows or movies on Netflix, or do other fun activities that will give you a breath of fresh air? Don’t get us wrong. We’re not asking you to run away from the troubles you’re in, but to be aware that there’s more to life than your money problems.

Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to stop thinking about it. Take the break that you need before you break down!

2. Look after your feelings

It’s not always easy to talk about financial problems. Some find it awkward, embarrassing, or uncomfortable. However, it can help you know how you’re doing emotionally before trying to address your financial issues. To keep your mind in check, you can talk to your family, friends, or loved ones about your money problems.

It doesn’t need to be in person, especially now that we’re in a pandemic. You can stay connected while social distancing via social media platforms and other forms of virtual communication. Opening up to someone you trust is one of the most effective ways to get the burden off your chest and ease stress.

Come to think of it, in the financial climate we’re in, there’s a high chance that the person you’re talking to is experiencing the same thing. That’s also a good reminder that you’re not the only person who’s feeling stressed about finances right now.

You can also write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, on your laptop or phone—whatever works best for you. Doing so can help you process your thoughts, clear mental clutter, and redirect your focus towards the more important things.

3. Address your money problems

After taking all the breathers you need, it’s time to actually take a look at what causes your financial burden—it can be among the things we mentioned earlier. Once you’ve identified the real problem, the next crucial step to take is to recall how you got in the situation you’re currently in.

What decisions did you make yesterday that brought you where you are today? It can be daunting to revisit the past, but it can help save yourself from financial stress in the future. Take an honest look at your spending habits and try to track where you spent your money.

Here’s a tip: You can try to list down the big expenses first. This may give you a bigger picture of where your money actually went. Let’s say you built a gaming PC. What expenses did you make there?

4. Create a realistic financial plan

Instead of obsessing over your financial crisis, try to see the situation as an opportunity to improve your money skills. How can you actually learn from this situation and make sure that you won’t find yourself dealing with the same problem again?

One thing you can try is to create clear and actionable goals. You can start by making a list of your priorities and thinking of how you can adjust your spending habits. This can help in easing your financial stress and get you back on track. If you’re having a hard time setting a goal, don’t worry—help is on the way!

You can always reach out to a financial advisor or investment specialist, especially if you’re making major financial decisions. We want to make sure you’re thinking logically about every change you’re about to make and you’re not just acting solely on your impulse or emotions.

If you’re worried about your mental health, you can also speak to your doctor or mental health professional about it. Remember, you’re not expected to know everything, so never be afraid to get professional help when needed.

5. Be open for change and fix your eyes on the goal

Accepting change is not an easy task, mainly because you aren’t sure about what will happen next. Reminding yourself about why you’re changing the way you approach your finances can help you fix your eyes towards your goal to overcome financial stress. 

You can also ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner. Ask this person to regularly check up on you, especially about your financial management progress. Whenever you find yourself taking a step back towards your goals, remind yourself to stick to the plan, whatever it takes!

Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make each day count. Remember, stressing over the things you can’t control—like this pandemic—will just steal your joy and peace of mind.

Financial stress will only continue to get the best of you as long as you allow it. Make a significant shift in your life and remind yourself that the burden you’re carrying right now will not last forever. Instead, look forward to getting back on track again.

*The content of this article is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, medical, or other advice.