Do You Have 'Financial Anxiety'?

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Money worries keeping you up at night? Lost your job, or suffered cut back hours because of the Covid-19 pandemic? You might have ‘financial anxiety’.

What is financial anxiety?

Financial anxiety is not an official diagnosis, but is recognised as a form of anxiety that can impact your life significantly.

A 2016 study based on 454 British students discovered that those with financial worries and difficulties around paying off debt had a significant increase in their anxiety up to four months into the study. Also worrying, other participants developed alcohol dependence six to eight months into the study.

Why do I suffer from financial anxiety?

Why are you a wreck now your hours have been cut back, when a friend in a similar situation is coping just fine?

Financial anxiety can relate to your childhood. It doesn’t have to be a major trauma like watching your parents lose their home. It could be something smaller, such as witnessing your parents worry excessively about money, or often fighting about it.

Signs of financial anxiety

Signs of financial anxiety are the same as generalised anxiety disorder, including:

  • increasingly illogic and negative thinking you can’t control
  • constant feelings of fear
  • changes to sleep and eating habits
  • physical signs like muscle tension, pounding heart, headaches, stomach upset.

Of course your troubled, fear-based thoughts will be focused on money issues. This can look like:

  • feeling overwhelmed about your finances
  • constantly thinking about what will happen if you lose your job
  • worry about increasing your earnings or accumulating wealth
  • depending on others to handle your finances as it feels ‘too much’ for you
  • being more frugal than you need to be because of fear.

How to calm your financial anxiety

1. Set regular money check-ins.

Set a certain time during the week when you can have discussions about your current money situation with your partner, or reflect on this situation on your own.

You can look at your bank account and check your spending habits. You can also look at your budget and if see if you managed to fit into a spending limit.

2. Do body scans.

Pay attention to how your body feels and reacts when you talk about money or handle your finances. How about when you check your bank balance? Do you feel excited, overwhelmed.... or just anxious? Are you experiencing sweaty palms, a faster heart rate, or racing thoughts?

Take note of what is triggering these reactions. Are you feeling anxious due to the little amount of money you have left? Or perhaps you experience guilt over losing a job, and even blame yourself for it.

Whatever feelings you discover, acknowledge them and be forgiving towards yourself.

3. Seek professional help.

This might be help to start getting your finances in order and start saving money. So it could be a financial coach.

But remember, financial anxiety is often deep-rooted. If your childhood had traumatic experiences that related to money, or if a recent financial setback seems to have caused a serious shift to your moods? Then consider talk therapy.

Can't sleep or think straight now you've had a financial setback? Need someone to vent to who takes you seriously? Our online therapists can be booked now.

Marlena Bontas is a financial and mental health writer based in the UK.

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