I had a discussion this week with a client who is facing what many people are facing in the course of the current Pandemic. She is a freelance business consultant and educator. She primarily makes money off of speaking engagements and holding corporate workshops. But now, all of her events have been cancelled through the end of May as much of Canada prioritizes social distancing amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
While she understands why the events are being cancelled, she’s also worried about paying her bills in the coming months. Not only has she lost much of her own income, but her partner has had his hours cut at work as well. Together, they estimate they will lose around $3,000 a month in income.
My client and and her family certainly aren’t alone. Millions of Canadians are going to face financial strains in the coming weeks, whether from unexpected medical costs, losing income or seeing their retirement savings plunge. If you are struggling financially, here are five ways to manage financial stress and anxiety.
Accept the current state of affairs
A lot of anxiety stems from not knowing what will happen with regard to the Coronavirus, or how long things will be different. When faced with the unknown, we often experience paralyzing anxiety. The first step to overcoming that anxiety is accepting that your life is going to be different for a while and focusing on tasks you can control. I think recognizing that it is natural to feel this underlying anxiety is really helpful because then we can recognize our desire for a sense of control.
Even for well-off people, worrying about money is common in times of uncertainty. That’s because it is more socially acceptable to voice concerns about finances than things like isolation or depression.
If you are becoming increasingly worried about money, take stock of the resources you do have. Put more attention on your strengths and abilities and imagine yourself coping and adapting. If you have been through financial reversals in the past, and most of us have been through those at some point in our lives, identify what got you through them.
Know your emotional triggers
Pinpoint what your emotional triggers are and how you react to them. Maybe you’re a stress shopper or perhaps you’re considering selling some investments. Whatever it is, don’t let your emotions take over.
It’s easy to get sucked into Amazon or Wayfair while home in self-isolation, but you don’t need to spend. This also applies to overbuying supplies. You may reduce your financial means by overbuying.
It’s okay to distance yourself from upsetting news, as long as you’re staying informed. Pick one channel you trust and don’t inundate yourself with it. Limit your social media exposure. That said, keep up to date on what your banks, creditors, employer, local government, etc., are doing in response to the virus.
Prioritize mental health care
Don’t skip your therapy appointments, if you already see a professional. Seek out teletherapy options if you think they’d be beneficial. For some, that means continuing to see your therapist to talk through things and being intentional about listening to herself and practicing self care.
For our client, it doesn’t have to simply be that I’m going to yoga. It’s about how she listens to herself and her body. For her, laying on the ground and focusing on her breathing helps calm her mind.
Do the things you normally would for your mental health benefits: work out, sleep right, limit alcohol and caffeine and setup Face Time calls, Skype or Google Hangouts with your friends and family.
Consider talking to a mental health or financial therapist professional. A lot of helping professionals I know are providing telemental health during this time, so it could be something you do while in quarantine.
Don’t take unnecessary risks
If you don’t have a ton of savings, now is not the time to take undue risk and go on a stock-buying spree because of an apparent golden opportunity or free advise from someone that now is the time to invest. Don’t gamble with the stock market if you don’t have the disposable income. We don’t know when things will recover.
You can also mitigate anxiety by doing the right thing and staying safe. Likewise, stay inside and wash your hands frequently. Use hand sanitizer alernativley. Keep your immune system healthy.
Lean on your community
An amazing community development has started to emerge. Freelance and online communities are getting people through the difficult time.
Most have never experienced anything like the current state of affairs in their life. The freelance and online communities are attempting to put together resources that can be used today or in any similar situation that should arise in the future. That, at least, is giving people hope in dark times. If you have family members or community to lean on, now is the time to do so.
If you can, donate money to your local food bank or offer assistance to your high-risk neighbours so they don’t need to be outside and only stock up on the supplies you absolutely need.
We don’t know when we will be on the other side of this Pandemic. All we can do is our best to mitigate and respond to our stress and anxiety. Of course, most people are not sure how to do this because it is something they never faced before. The main focus is to believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to make whatever accommodations and changes needed to see you through. There is a lot of value in coming together as a community. Working together with our neighbours and providing what ever mental health support we is Keeping Life Current.