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Wellbeing

How to cope with the stress of debt Part 2

Posted 04 March 2016

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Research shows that women worry a lot about debt, our blog shows you how to cope with those worries and get on with your life.

So, yesterday we looked at why money worries might cause you worry and how to identify if you’re suffering from stress. Today we’re going to look at some ways you can reduce the stress you’re feeling and enjoy life more. 

Ways to reduce stress 

These days’ doctors will advise you try lots of techniques to naturally reduce your stress levels, before prescribing any kind of medication to deal with the situation. So, here are some of the more common ways to reduce your stress levels:

1. Take control – no matter what the problem is, there’s always a solution. And this is definitely so with debt worries. No matter how serious your debt issue is, there will be a solution to resolve it. So, you may want to get on the phone and speak to a trained debt advisor about your options. In fact, just picking up the phone and speaking with someone who knows what you’re going through and can offer advice and a solution can feel like a huge weight’s been lifted. A problem shared and all that…

If you feel like you’re at the point of needing to speak to someone about your level of problem debt, we have trained debt advisors who can take you through the options available to you. You can contact us using the buttons on the left of the page. 

2. Get some sleep – we know it can be hard to relax and fall asleep when you have money worries, but trust us, if you can manage it, you’ll feel a whole lot better about everything. Lack of sleep over a number of nights can affect your physical health as well as your mental health. So, as well as feeling tired physically, you may also suffer from what’s called brain fog. This is when you can’t focus or concentrate properly and it makes it difficult for you to make good decisions. You can see how this could be an issue, if you’re already dealing with stressful, often complicated, debt problems.  

Plus, a chronic lack of sleep has in itself been linked to feelings of anxiety and depression, so a good nights’ sleep is even more important if you want to feel better. And, often it’s true that things will seem better in the morning. So, make sure your bedroom is as comfortable as it can be, stop messing about with your mobile phone, and any other screens you have, about an hour before you want to go to sleep, and avoid coffee. More help on getting a better nights’ sleep can be found here.  There’s even a sleep assessment questionnaire, so you can find out whether you are sleep deprived or not.        

Once you start to feel less tired, you’ll be in a much better position to make clear, sensible decisions about your money.     

3. Connect with people – when you’re stressed it can feel like all you want to do is hide away from the world. And there’s nothing wrong with taking some time out now and again. But, if you find that you’re taking more ‘time-out’ than you’re having ‘time-in’, you’re moving towards it being a problem. So it’s a good idea to get yourself out and about and reconnect with people. 

If you really don’t feel like doing that face-to-face, you don’t have to. With the wonderful web at your fingertips, it’s just as easy to connect with people in the virtual world as it is in the real world. And, you can find people who:

• have been through the same situation as you, so can give you support

• can help you resolve your problem debt and advise on how to remain debt-free in the future

• can help you improve your situation so that you have more money available to you in the future

There’s plenty of evidence to show how connecting with people makes our lives better – you can read more about it here

4. Avoid unhealthy habits – it can be really easy to reach for a bottle of alcohol, a packet of cigarettes, the coffee machine or junk food when we feel stressed. All these things make us feel better, but only temporarily. When they start to become the only way you can make yourself feel better, it’s time to have a look at what’s going on. 

You will usually find that the things most people use as a distraction from their money worries, such as alcohol, tobacco, sugar, coffee and all manner of illegal drugs, are things that can, in excess, cause you to be more stressed. They’ll no doubt be damaging your pocket, as many of them are pricey to buy and they’ll probably damage your health too, if you use them in excess or long term.    

Using other ‘things’ to distract yourself from the real issues that are causing you stress is a head-in-the-sand technique and will, as we’ve already said, only ease your worries in the short term. 

5. Change your perspective – money isn’t everything, and it’s important to remember that, in this country, you cannot be put in prison for not being able to pay your debts. It also appears to be true, although many people don’t believe it, that money does not make you happy. However, when you feel like you are drowning in problem debt, keeping these two things in mind is tough. 

A simple trick to remind you of what’s important in your life, is to write down three things that you’re grateful for each day. It helps you move your mind away from what you currently don’t have because of your situation, onto what you do have. Here’s an NHS audio recording on combatting unhelpful thinking.     

And finally, it’s useful to keep the old saying ‘this too shall pass’, which could not be more true in the case of problem debt.       

 

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.