Guest Post: 5 ways to manage financial anxiety

Feeling  anxious about the current economy? Who isn’t? Author, blogger and twentysomething author Marcos Salazar is here to help.
Marcos Salazar is the author of The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide: Figuring Out Who You Are, What You Want, and Where You’re Going After College and writes a personal and career development blog looking at the psychological, social, and workforce challenges facing college graduates in the 21st century. 

If you are anxious these days about the economy, you are not alone. A recent poll by the American Psychological Association found that 8 out of 10 people say the economy is a significant cause of stress, up from 66 percent in April.

Women are also most likely to report stress related to the economic climate. Compared with men, more women say they are stressed about money (83 percent vs. 78 percent), the economy (84 percent vs. 75 percent), job stability (57 percent vs. 55 percent), housing costs (66 percent vs. 58 percent) and health problems affecting their families (70 percent vs. 63 percent).

Generation Xers (ages 30 to 43) and Millennials (ages 18 to 29) are not immune from today’s economic woes either. Generation Xers are the women most concerned about money (89 percent report money as a source of stress) and Millennials are most concerned about housing costs (75 percent report housing costs as a source of stress).

With headlines declaring that the economy is getting worse each day, it can be hard not to get stressed out about how this will affect your personal finances. Fortunately, there are strategies you can utilize to quickly help manage anxiety during this economic crisis. Here are five simple methods:

1. Do a reality check by making a budget . This is the number one thing you can do to decrease financial anxiety. By making a budget, you will become aware of where you are spending money, how much you owe, and where you may need to cut back. Not knowing where your money is going can cause you a great deal of unnecessary stress, so get organized and create a budget. Here is an easy tool to help you get started.

2. Don’t stress about what you can’t control. Just as you can’t control if the weather is going to be bad tomorrow, you can’t control whether the $700 billion bailout package is going to improve the economy. What you can control, however, is your own finances, which will help improve your self-efficacy and reduce stress. So stop thinking about things you can’t control and focus on the things you can.

3. Start being more careful with credit cards. Simply because you have credit available doesn’t mean you should be using it, so start trying to pay with cash more often than credit cards. This will help you feel more in control of your finances and save you the stress of receiving a large bill at the end of the month that you may not be able to pay in full.

4. Get some exercise. Research has show time and time again that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, exercise has been show to be just as effective as therapy and medication when it comes to improving some symptoms of depression. You don’t have to exercise for long period of time or even have an intense workout. Consistency is the key, so aim for exercising for 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week doing your favorite kind of physical activity.

5. Focus on what’s most important in life. Make a conscious effort to start spending more time doing things you really enjoy. This doesn’t have to be anything major but rather, spending time doing simple things that make you happy such as hanging out with family and friends, finally starting that hobby or project you have been putting off, or even doing some volunteer work to help other people.

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