Being in debt is never fun.
For decades, debt has been a problem for many Americans, but the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the debt situation.
The average American has approximately $92,727 in debt. This includes all types of consumer debt products from mortgages to auto loans, student loans, credit cards, and personal loans. That’s one hell of a boulder a good number of us carry on our shoulders.
Living beyond our means, unemployment and emergency expenses are the most common triggers for debt problems. And contrary to popular misconception, debt problems can happen to anyone, regardless of their attitude toward money.
But it isn’t just the actual lack of money that’s the issue – carrying debt is a mental and emotional burden. According to APA’s 2020 Stress in America report, 64 percent of adults admitted that finances are a major source of stress.
The emotional distress of dealing with debt can result from having your car repossessed, getting your electricity/water cut off, or watching helplessly as your credit score plunges to a place of no return.
The Symptoms of Debt Anxiety
Debt and anxiety often go hand-in-hand.
So how do you know that your debt is causing you anxiety?
Well, there are many signs to watch out for when you suspect that your debt problem is causing you anxiety, but the most common sign is impaired cognitive functioning. That means you find it hard to concentrate on work and other duties.
Other tell-tale signs of debt anxiety include:
- Low self-esteem
- Leaving bills unopened or just stuffing them in a drawer
- Not answering creditors’ calls
- Waiting last minute to pay off your bills
- Struggling to eat or sleep properly
- Social withdrawal
- Money fights if you’re dating or married
- Sweating, shaking, pounding heartbeat, or even panic attacks
- Developing unhealthy coping behaviors, like gambling and substance abuse
Ways to Relieve Anxiety from Debt
If you’ve been feeling anxious about debt, try the following remedies:
Face Your Money Anxiety Head-On
It’s normal to be in denial when dealing with debt.
Ignoring reality is a handy defense mechanism for the brain.
According to psychologists, it’s a way to justify mistakes and protect your ego. There’s one problem, though, reality always sets in.
Denying the reality of your debt situation will only make things worse in the long run.
Start regaining control of your finances now by acknowledging your money problems. Rather than ignoring calls from your creditors, regain control by answering the call and explaining your situation.
Take stock of how much debt you’re in and who you owe. If you don’t know where to start, request a free copy of your credit report.
Be Smart with Spending
Chances are, there are some unnecessary expenses you can cut back on to relieve some of the pressure.
This is a good time to review your spending plan and prioritize according to necessity.
It can be tempting to skip this step, but by doing this, you will be able to recognize areas in your spending that are triggering money leaks you may not have been aware of.
Like you may realize that you’ve been unknowingly indulging yourself in retail therapy as a coping mechanism.
Ensure basic needs come first, and everything else follows.
Develop a Plan to Pay Off Debt
The good news about debt anxiety is that it can be pretty simple to treat in the early stages. There’s no need to spend time on a psychiatrist’s couch or buy medication.
You just need to get out of debt. I know I know, it’s easier said than done. But it can be done if you create a debt payoff plan and stick to it. Become familiar with the different debt repayment strategies.
Maybe being debt-free will require finding new income streams, like a side hustle or a part-time job. We all have a skill we can monetize.
However, if you feel like you’ve reached a point of no return with your debt, you can reach out to non-profit debt counseling services to get tools and further guidance.
As your debt burden shrinks, so will your anxiety.
Take A Break from Social Media
Social media can be a toxic place if you’re in debt.
This is because sites like Instagram and Snapchat are a conduit for boastful behavior.
Maybe your peers don’t mean to brag, but if you can barely afford to visit the mall while your friends are globe-trotting, it’s bound to make you wonder where you went wrong.
Don’t let social media stress you. Remember, you don’t know what’s going on in these people’s bank accounts. People will only show you the best version of themselves.
Instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, be grateful for the good things and people in your life. Focus on yourself and your new commitment to tackle debt. If this means stepping away from social media, so be it.
Practice Anxiety Reduction Strategies
As you start acting on the financial front, remember to make time for yourself.
Shift your focus from all of the things you’ve done to the things you can do. Exploring a healthy money mindset and concentrating on the small things you can control will help you feel more in control.
Get up at your normal time and stick to your usual routine that includes regular meals, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Researchers have found that a repetitive motion hobby such as knitting can produce a hypnotic euphoria. Even inexpensive recreation can help you get a handle on your anxiety.
Other relaxation techniques include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, journaling, and progressive muscle relaxation.
See a physician or psychiatrist if you’re still feeling anxious, worried or low after a few weeks.
Connect with People Who Know What You’re Going Through
Even as you work out your zen approach to debt anxiety, you should not do it alone.
Avoid the temptation of bottling everything up and trying to go it alone. There’s help out there if you know where to look. The first people to come clean to are your loved ones.
The problem is that many people feel uneasy about discussing debt with their family members. But it’s worth mentioning that talking to a person you trust can help you feel less alone.
Not everyone in debt has someone in their life that they feel comfortable confiding in them. Luckily, organizations like Debtors Anonymous and National Foundation for Credit Counseling can provide anonymous emotional support.
There are also online communities with people in your situation who are bravely facing their debt anxiety.
Debt can cause lots of damage, and not just to your credit score. It takes real courage to deal with your debt and the anxiety that comes with it.
It might feel like your debt cycle will last forever, but following the above steps can help reduce your anxiety related to debt. Remember, the sooner you start tackling your debt, the sooner you’ll have it paid off.
If you’re anxious about your debt and need some help getting started with a plan, contact us today! At Americor, we’re here to help you relieve anxiety from debt.
Click here to apply: https://apply.americor.com/new
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