The global coronavirus pandemic has caused emotional distress and financial upheaval for people around the world. Many Americans are dealing with daunting issues that could jeopardize their financial future, whether it’s unexpected health care costs, unemployment and loss of income, the market’s impact on 401(k)s and other investments, or the need to postpone retirement plans. With these COVID-19 disruptions come financial anxiety and increased emotional concern that can become all-consuming and greatly impact your mental health.
With new challenges daily, it’s important to consider the mental toll of these financial stresses. It’s a time for global awareness to advocate and provide support for those who are overcome with physical and mental angst. It’s a good reminder to use this time to reflect and tackle new methods to deal with the anxiety and stress you’re facing. Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and Prudential’s financial wellness advocate, can help you to tackle these issues head on and cope with these feelings to find your way through this challenging time.
Clayman offers these tips on how to ease your mind and overcome the emotional distress caused by the various financial changes and uncertainties experienced during the pandemic.
1. Pause and reflect on delayed plans: Many are feeling an overwhelming sense of disappointment and despair in numerous aspects of life. From missing milestones for children and grandchildren to job loss or postponed retirement plans, these are moments that we attach to emotionally. Feelings of loss and sadness are tangible but it’s important to take a step back and appreciate that many things are outside of your control right now. Instead of reacting emotionally, ground yourself with the understanding that what may be out of reach at the moment will be back within your control and reach at the right time. Taking time to get fresh air, exercise and have some alone time are things that can keep your body in a more regulated state to reduce your stress levels. This way you can approach these financial struggles and decisions with a more open and relaxed mind.
2. Re-evaluate your budget and household needs: Unnerving life disruptions, such as unemployment, often affect the whole family and cause a shift in dynamics. Many of us could be experiencing a role reversal, whether you were an empty nester that has since welcomed your adult children back under your roof, or if you are now relying on your children for financial support due to loss of income. We all feel the weight of the pandemic, but we need to do our best to adapt to these changes both emotionally and financially. Use this time to track your spending habits and re-evaluate your budget to see what you need for day-to-day expenses to keep your family fed, connected and safe. Don’t make any drastic changes to your budget, but make sure your basic needs are going to be met for as long as possible. This will put you in a more grounded place and ease some of the financial weight you are bearing.
3. Stay centered and connected: The pandemic has created a sense of isolation and loneliness for many around the world. With technology, we have the opportunity to continue connecting with friends, family and your community. It’s essential to be open and honest with others about the emotional and financial stress we are feeling, as the new dynamics of balancing work and home life are a new challenge for us all. In these uncertain times, encourage discussion and create an open dialogue with your loved ones about needs and financial responsibilities. Adapting to a new routine, inclusive of compromise and conversation in and out of your household, creates a safe space for your family unit.
As we all navigate this emotionally challenging time, remember to stay present and grounded in the facts, and try to avoid focusing on worst-case scenarios. These reminders are key for your mental health and emotional stability, Clayman says. We could all use some extra time and reflection to ensure we are prioritizing how our financial lives impact our emotional health. Remember to be purposeful in your decisions, not impulsive; and be deliberate with your approach, yet hopeful for the future.
For more information on how to deal with financial anxiety, visit Prudential’s Newsroom.