Six tips to manage your emotions when you're dealing with financial stress

27 April 2023 dot 5-minute read
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Learning to cope with financial stress helps you feel more in control of your life and build a more secure future. (Credit: Getty Images)
Individuals can learn strategies to manage money effectively with the proper guidance and support. But sometimes the challenge isn't always about a lack of financial literacy skills. Instead, it's about overcoming the complicated emotions of financial stress.
While financial challenges such as mounting debts, job loss or unforeseen expenses can be stressful, they also present an opportunity for personal growth and empowerment. Here are practical steps to help you regain control of your financial situation.

1. Acknowledge your emotions with Emotional Freedom Technique

Financial stress can make you feel so vulnerable that often, putting off a problem for another day provides some relief. However, letting it escalate further intensifies fear, anger or helplessness.
Stress-coping techniques such as meditation or journalling can help calm racing thoughts, giving you the space to reflect on emotions and the next actions to take. An alternative is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping.
A study in the Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine describes EFT as an evidence-based self-help therapeutic method. The basic technique involves tapping specific acupressure points on the body while focusing on a negative emotion or physical sensation. The tapping is accompanied by affirmations to help reframe the issue in a more positive light.
It is advisable to work with an experienced EFT practitioner or therapist. But there are EFT mobile apps available that can guide you through the process. Here's a look at how it works.
  1. Think about your financial stress.
  2. On a scale of 0-10, rate its intensity.
  3. Choose a setup phrase or acknowledging statement and affirm your self-acceptance. For example, "Even though I feel anxious about this situation, I deeply and completely love and accept myself."
  4. Tap the fleshy, narrow side of your hand below the pinky finger using your fingertips while repeating the setup phrase three times.
  5. Tap each of the following acupressure points five to seven times while repeating a reminder phrase like "feeling scared about this obligation":
  • Eyebrow, on the inner edge of the eyebrow, near the bridge of the nose
  • Side of the eye, on the bone at the outer corner of the eye
  • Under the eye, on the bone just below the centre of the eye
  • Under the nose, in the crease above the upper lip, below the nose
  • Chin, in the crease between the lower lip and chin
  • Collarbone, just below the collarbone, near the centre of the chest
  • Under the arm, on the side of the body, about four inches below the armpit
  • Top of the head
6. Continue tapping on the acupressure points while repeating reminder phrases acknowledging any shifts in your emotions or physical sensations.
7. After a few rounds of tapping, re-rate the intensity on a scale of 0-10. If the intensity has decreased, you can continue tapping until it reaches 0.
End with a positive statement affirming your self-acceptance and acknowledging any positive shifts during the tapping process. For example, "Even though I still feel some anxiety, I choose to focus on my inner strength and trust in my ability to handle this situation."

2. Talk about money with a trusted confidante

Stay motivated and committed to your financial plan over the long term with the help of a trusted relative or friend. (Credit: Getty Images)
Cultural and social norms and a lack of financial confidence or knowledge make people reluctant to openly discuss their struggles. They also fear judgement or criticism, which leads to feelings of shame or embarrassment. These concerns prevent supportive dialogue around financial matters, leading to misunderstandings and missed opportunities.
While talking about money can sometimes be difficult, it offers growth and learning opportunities. It encourages a deeper understanding of values and builds stronger, more supportive relationships with others.
Finding someone whose advice you trust can be instrumental in coping with financial stress. A study published in The Counseling Psychologist suggests social support can provide encouragement to rebuild your confidence when making financial decisions.

3. Shift a scarcity mindset to abundance

Financial stress can be triggered by a scarcity mindset, which focuses on what is lacking or needed to achieve happiness and contentment. Financial advisor and coach Lachlan Campbell of AIA Voices describes this mentality as "unfulfilled need-based thinking".
"Ultimately, when we're so concerned about not having enough, we focus on the immediate gratification or benefits that we want in our life and neglect the future goals."
Life coach Tony Robbins says positivity and gratitude can help you shift to a mindset of abundance. It can be as simple as listing the things or people you're thankful for, including your financial accomplishments.
He adds that practising gratitude makes you more aware of the limiting beliefs that prevent you from enjoying your life. "As you uncover each limiting belief, ask yourself: Does this belief take me further along the pursuit of gratitude, or does this belief hold me back?"

4. Break challenges down into actionable steps

Financial stress can often feel paralysing, leaving you incapable of fulfilling your financial needs. However, breaking down challenges into smaller, more manageable steps can help you feel more in control of your finances.
Focus on solutions that instill financial discipline and establish stability. For example, savings insurance can be a wise investment because you can access it whenever you're faced with sudden hardships. But it can also help boost financial security in the future. AIA , has various savings insurance products that allow you to save a certain amount monthly for a specific duration.
Another actionable step is being more transparent and open with friends and family about budget limitations. Honesty can help avoid financial strain or tension in your relationships. It will also make loved ones more accommodating in situations involving money.

5. Acknowledge and appreciate wins

Celebrating financial wins can help improve one's relationship with money. (Credit: Getty Images)
Recognising that small wins lead to bigger ones motivates you to move forward. So, focus on everyday habits instead of an overwhelming goal that may seem impossible. Then, celebrate every achievement by taking a moment to recognise your progress. This can mean pausing and saying "well done!" to yourself or sharing the news with your social support system.
As Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, author of the book The Financial Anxiety Solution, writes, "Celebrating financial success is powerful. When we celebrate our progress along the way, it reinforces that we can improve our relationship with money."
A sense of accomplishment always boosts self-worth and fuels goal-setting decisions later on. Once you've recognised the positive steps to take, changing long-held habits that cause you financial stress is not impossible.
A "scarcity mindset" may prevent you from achieving goals. In this episode of AIA Voices, finance experts Anna Haotanto and Lachlan Campbell, with AIA Ambassador Nico Bolzico, explain how this way of thinking prevents financial wellness. Watch as they share tips to put you on the path to financial freedom.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.
The Counseling Psychologist. 2018. Financial Stress, Social Supports, Gender, and Anxiety During College: A Stress-Buffering Perspective. [online] [Accessed on 14 March 2023]
The Tapping Solution. 2018. How to Tap by Jessica Ortner. [online] [Accessed on 14 March 2023]
Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine. 2019. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health [online] [Accessed on 14 March 2023]
Tony Robbins. How to develop an abundance mindset. [online] [Accessed on 14 March 2023]
Vox. 2022. Money is emotional — but personal finance advice rarely accounts for that [online] [Accessed on February 10, 2023]
Big Think. 2023. The #1 thing we're afraid to talk about | Your Brain on Money [online] [Accessed on 14 March 2023]

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

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