It has always been obvious to me, and probably to many of you, that there is a strong correlation between financial health and mental health. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed these days about money, you are not alone. Money problems and mental health go hand in hand. Money is such an emotionally charged topic and for the past several weeks, I’ve watched how financial problems have been taking a toll on my clients’ mental health. The challenge I have seen with many of my clients is that they feel trapped in a vicious cycle where they are experiencing financial stress, which negatively affects their mental health, and they feel like they are spinning their wheels and not making progress.
I also feel this stress—it’s difficult not to right now—and I’ve found myself asking a lot of “what if” questions. While we may not have all of the answers, one thing that helps me is instead of leaving those “what if” questions open, I actually answer myself and play out the scenarios. Awareness is always key and to help with that, I have had the pleasure of interviewing Yair Klyman, a financial expert (you can read more about him below), to ask him to share some of his best tips with our readers.
1. Avoid negative thinking.
Getting lost in your thoughts will not serve you well. It can prevent you from taking the right steps toward achieving financial recovery. He often tells his clients who are feeling stressed about their financial situation to remember that what goes down will come up. For people who have lost lots of funds during this time, he encourages you to remember that historically speaking, the market picks back up, and if you have funds that are for the long term, you will do well.
2. Get rid of the shame and guilt that is associated with your financial situation.
Most of us are in a similar boat here—whether you have always struggled financially or fall on the wealthier side of the spectrum—you are most likely feeling the impact of the past few weeks. Normalizing your situation won’t make it go away, but at least you will not feel alone and you will develop a better awareness of the shame and guilt that you are experiencing. This shame and guilt are tied into the negative thinking I talked about. In order to move forward and face your challenges head-on, you must acknowledge the internalized shame, guilt, and anxiety about experiencing financial stress and then you can begin to take steps in the right direction. Internalizing these guilty thoughts can lead to feelings of worthlessness and self-criticism, which will only serve to paralyze you mentally and prevent you from taking concrete steps toward financial freedom.
3. Be honest with yourself about your financial situation.
While it isn’t wise to get stuck in a negative shame spiral with your thoughts, it is important to face the reality of your situation—actually look at the numbers!—and treat your experience as a grieving process. Sure, no one died, but the process is similar in that many people who experience financial loss and debt are often in denial about what is happening because they think that they will feel worse if they actually see all the numbers. The five stages of grief are denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s been said that these stages apply not just to personal loss but also to the business and finance worlds. It’s helpful to remember that these stages aren’t linear, either. You may be feeling one of them more than another right now and that’s okay.
In order to help their clients become more aware of their financial situation and reduce their anxiety, Yair implements a two-step program: Step one involves going through everything that the client has in terms of funds and assets and the second is forming a proper strategy to set them up for a better future. First, they map out and conduct a true assessment. You want to make sure that you know where your money is going. I find that this is similar to when I suggest my clients write their thoughts and feelings in a journal. It helps to see everything laid out instead of hiding from the fears you have.
4. Use friends and family as well as external resources available.
During times like these, many are not comfortable opening up and asking for help and support, but it can be necessary to put your ego aside and turn to those you trust. You are human, and as such, it is important that you learn to ask for help if you need it. This help can be in the form of suggestions as to how to resolve this challenge. It can also simply be moral support.
However, you will want to find tangible resource