10 tips to help you cope with financial stress

Financial coach and holistic therapist Ann Keenaghan looks at how you can overcome financial stress.

I’ve spent three decades working in the area of personal finance and have seen first-hand how common money problems are for people.

Financial difficulties, debt, mortgage arrears, repossessions have always effected a certain percentage of the population. People of all ages can find themselves in debt for many reasons such as unemployment, low income, illness, separation, poor literacy, addictions, overspending, and sometimes poor money management skills.

In recent years financial pressures and debt have become a reality for many more with the added problems of reduced income, job losses, business failures, negative equity and a vast drop in the value of assets.

The severe stress, fear, low self-esteem, and embarrassment that can affect people when faced with financial problems often lead to illness, both mental and physical. Panic attacks, anxiety and depression are common symptoms that follow, leading to lack of hope and despair.

Often the media feed this situation. A lot of the news is fear based with negative stories about how bad things are. The endless cycle of negative news drowns out different realities that are available to us, different ways of being in the world. It doesn’t place enough emphasis on how we can change our reality in a positive way, and instead often continually reinforces fear.

While there are very real problems, especially for those who are unemployed, there is always hope. When we can deal with our problems, when we are feeling stronger, more confident and positive, we are in a better place to see new opportunities and to retrain, upskill, and perhaps do voluntary work until the right job opportunities come along.  Doing voluntary work can be a good social outlet, and help boost mood and confidence. It can also open the door to paid work down the line. Find opportunities at volunteer.ie

It’s also vital not to fall prey to feeling shame about perceived failure. Some of the most successful people in the world have encountered some degree of failure along the way. They turned things around by having the courage to keep trying, to give something else a go and to keep believing. There’s no shame in failure, and often failure provides the food for future success.

Practical tips
  1. Invest in eating well, drinking lots of water, getting exercise and enough sleep. These things can’t be underestimated.
  2. Be conscious about how much news you consume and the time you spend online. Try to limit this and focus more on positive people, inspirational media and thoughts that help you feel well. Let the negative ones go if you can catch them. They are a total waste of your energy and you deserve to be kind to yourself.
  3. Get outside. Nature is a good healer. Spend time among trees and water.
  4. Try not to let materialism define you.  You are so much more than that. You can have a bright wonderful future. Take one step at a time towards it.
  5. Even when you don’t want to, try to be more sociable. Go see some music, dance, join a club. Spending time with others is a good tonic. Also, talking to people you trust can take the edge off as so many are in the same situation. Being in debt or having financial worries is something many of us feel shame about, but the more we talk about it, the better we feel, and we might be able to give or get some solid advice also. It doesn’t have to be a shameful secret. It’s life. Talk about it.
  6. Make a list of all your income and expenditure and try to make a plan for managing it. If you are struggling to do this, remember you can contact the free and confidential Money and Budgeting Advice Service who can help you re-organise your finances and deal with your debts. They have offices around Ireland. See mabs.ie or call 0761 07 2000 (open 9am to 8pm Mon to Fri)
  7. Find out about your rights and entitlements to social welfare and other allowances using the free Citizens Information Service online citizensinformation.ie, at their local offices, or and their helpline (Mon-Fri 9am-8pm) 0761 07 4000
  8. Your local branch of St. Vincent De Paul might be able to help you. See svp.ie
  9. Consider a course. There’s a full list of part-time and full time courses here: qualifax.ie
  10. Take time to create a new vision for your life. In the life-lull that you might feel you are in right now, might be a golden opportunity to change the course of your life. What is your dream for your life? Is there some idea you have that you have always wanted to go for? Something you would love to do with your life but always thought you couldn’t do it? Now is your chance to change your story. Write down your ideas. Research. Speak it out loud. Get advice from people you trust and in the know. Visualise it – get a vision board. Take daily steps towards realising the new you. Before you know it, things will change. Life is too short not to do what you know deep inside, you are here to do. Go for it.

‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.’ Confucius

Ann Keenaghan
Ann Keenaghan
Ann Keenaghan is a financial coach and holistic health therapist based in Galway. Find her at annkeenaghan.com.