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Financial Stress Counseling and Treatment

Financial Stress Counseling and Treatment

Understanding the cause of a problem is the first crucial step towards dealing with the problem. When stress about money declines the quality of your life, it is time to get proactive about it and look towards recovery from this stress.

Financial Stress happens when your worry about money affects your physical, emotional, and mental health. The stress could arise out of expenditure being more than the earning, your monthly income being barely enough to pay your bills, no budgets saved up, or owing money to a creditor.

There are options available towards recovery: There are financial counselors, financial therapists, and effective strategies like talking about your stress to a trustworthy person and listening to family members’ concerns, validating their emotions, and seeking their perspectives, as well as opening up your vision to observing and appreciating the small blessings of life which we tend to miss out on at the time of stress and strain. Although you may have difficulty in perceiving control over your financial situation, there are ways to plan and address your financial difficulties while coping with the fear and stress involved with financial challenges.

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Coping With Financial Stress

Financial stress can occur in many situations and under various circumstances. As part of this growth path, we’ll learn strategies for self care and coping with financial stress.

What is Financial Stress?

Financial Stress can happen to anybody. If it has happened to you, you are not alone. Worrying about money is not uncommon, but when it comes to affect our physical and mental health, it is time to seek help.

Financial Distress is a situation where an individual or a company of individuals are struggling to pay their bills, especially when they owe money to creditors.

Thus, financial issues give individuals a difficult time. It is also important to note that financial stress affects different people differently. What causes financial stress to one person might not impact another person, and one situation that triggers financial stress to one might not trigger another. So while financial stress can happen to anybody, the situations and the intensity of the stress could vary from person to person.

Common Reason Why It Happens

One of the most common reasons for financial stress is when the expenses are greater than the income. You may spend more than what you have monthly earned, and to meet your finances, you may pay using financing that leads to debt after using your credit cards, many loans, or even using your retirement funds to cover your bills.

Not having much money due to job loss can also cause more uncertainty due to unemployment adding to the stress levels.

Another common type of financial stress is when your income is barely enough to pay your bills. So you spend your time counting the days until the next paycheck. You get too busy paying everything off to be able to focus on anything else than finances.

A third type of financial stress is when you owe money to a friend. Though you benefit from borrowing without any interest and flexible debt payment, it could cause distress in your relationship if you are not able to timely return that money. Similarly, student loans can add to the money stress until they are paid. In addition, losing money due to habits like addictions or gambling can add to financial struggles.

Common Life Areas Which Are Affected

One of the most common adverse effects which happen as the result of financial stress are arguments about money with family members or with people close to you. Building bitterness with your close ones affects your physical health and mental peace. It is hard to cope with financial stress if you are supporting children, and it can influence your marriage as well. Emotional support is important between partners and other important individuals to better deal with any financial difficulties.

On the individual level, not being able to access medication, healthy food, or other utilities affects well-being as well.

The brutal cycle of poor financial health and its impact on mental health often presents as follows:

  1. Financial concerns and financial anxiety brings down your mental health, and you may face several stressors.
  2. With the decline in your mental health, financial goals feel harder to achieve.
  3. You start to take loans, borrow money from friends, increasing your mental burden and stress, which leads to your mental health further going down.

The money problems continue to worsen as you get trapped in this vicious cycle. The cycle is making a clear statement that in order to improve your financial state, you need to work on improving your mental health state.

Furthermore, with mental health going down, physical health also gets affected. For example, you face insomnia, headaches, get into unhealthy eating habits, and even fall into physical ailments sometimes.

That makes it even more important to take steps to keep your mental health in view. The small steps could be cost-free steps like taking time for a walk in nature, regularly exercising, spending time with a good friend, meditation or yoga, drinking water, etc. Let’s get into more details about recovery.

Recovery:Treatment Options Available

It helps to have ideas and be aware of the strategies that could help in recovering from financial stress. Let’s list a few of such ideas and treatment options available.

  1. Talking to someone trustworthy: A good talk can do wonders. It is not about seeking advice or finding solutions to your concerns and problems. It is about being able to vent and share freely with a trustworthy friend. It eases the burden, the load of your mind when you are able to unload your mind to someone kind, understanding, and compassionate.
  2. Getting Professional Advice: Financial counselors could help. They have experience and training to help you with financial matters. It could be a positive step to seek their advice. Depending upon where you live, find out the counselors available nearby and pick one of them to reach out to and share with them your financial situation and concerns. They could give you a valuable direction to decrease your financial stress. Professionals can help diminish your financial worries by offering tips on how to achieve and maintain financial security.
  3. Letting your family express their concerns: On one hand, it helps you when someone listens to you patiently and compassionately, on the other hand, you help yourself when you listen to someone with the same patience and compassion. Your family members must not be unaffected by your financial problems and the related mental stress. Allow them a space to talk to you about their feelings and thoughts around the situation. A family which comes together in understanding and consideration of one another is able to recover a lot faster from the tough phase.
  4. Being grateful for the good things in your life: Our vision gets narrowed down at a time when something is concerning and stressing us day and night. And a narrowed vision gets caught into darkness, being unable to see any light, and starts to lose hope. It is at that time it is important to open up your mind to what things are available in your life to be grateful for: enjoy the sunset, pat a pet, share a smile, etc.

Overcoming Financial Stress Frustration Through Therapy

Whatever you do, is not without a reason. You might not be aware of the reasons behind your certain actions, but the reasons lie in your past. You get psychologically trained as a child sometimes, for example, which largely determines your behavior as an adult. You could have seen your parents spending money as a coping method for relieving sadness or stress. And so as a grown-up, you find yourself getting caught into compulsive spending too.

You are not alone. So many people become victims of compulsive spending. That is where a therapist can help. They can help you recognize your behavior triggers and patterns, and help you think of better coping mechanisms and approaches than emotional spending.

A financial planner considers numbers alone in suggesting solutions for your financial problems and might assist with financial planning, but a therapist's assistance is more about identifying and taking into account the psychological and emotional factors behind your financial problem and helps you alter the negative patterns of your mind to more positive and productive ones.

Mental health professionals prioritize your concerns and may ask personalized questions to make more sense of your circumstances. Having conversations in a safe space to identify your source of stress and discussing ways to cope with your financial burden can help you feel supported and less stressed in light of your personal finance challenges.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Changing Money Mindset: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a type of treatment that explains how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interlinked, and one determines another. For example, our thoughts lead to how we feel, and our feelings relate to how we behave. Our thoughts can, thus, lead us to either a downward spiral or an upward spiral!

Let’s take an example. Say this thought comes to your mind: ‘I am terrible at money-saving.’ This thought will lead you to feel guilt, shame, and loathing. And this feeling will lead you to spend money as soon as you get paid. CBT helps you replace your negative thoughts with more objective ones. In our example, ‘I am terrible at money saving’ could be replaced by ‘I have not been great at saving money, but it is important for me since the money saved acts as a cushion in the time of an emergency.’ This objective thought would lead to useful feelings of apprehension, excitement, and nervousness. And these feelings will lead us to start saving some money.

7 Cups has online therapy services that you can consider as an online treatment option for financial stress. Mental health professionals at 7 Cups offer individual therapy and use different approaches to help individuals struggling with financial management and associated concerns including decision making, anger, stress, and other symptoms. The financial therapy sessions do not require scheduled appointments, and communication can be made with your therapist at any time via text messages during the week. The online platform is also available through a mobile device using the 7 Cups App and has other free features such as growth paths, online peer chatrooms, as well as trained volunteer listeners.

When financial stress happens, understand what’s happening, and remember that you are not alone in your struggle and there are recovery and treatment options available!

Featured Contributors

Scott Fantucchio, LMHC

Scott is a licensed mental health counselor with over 10 years of experience in the mental health field.

Adrienne Baggs, PhD, LPC

Adrienne is a licensed psychologist, assistant professor, and clinical educator with a holistic emphasis in healing.

Julie Ford

Julie is a Michigan-based writer with a passion for mental health advocacy.

Angie McCullagh

Angie is a Seattle writer who hopes to have a small part in erasing stigmas associated with mental health issues.