How To Cope With Inflation Stress, According To Therapists

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Inflation isn’t just hard on our wallets, it’s hard on our minds. 

According to new research from MyEListing.com, which analyzed the U.S Census Household Pulse Survey on the level of stress caused by inflation in the last two months (as of September),  47% of the country is very stressed about price increases, 28% is moderately stressed and 19% is a little stressed. Only 6% of the country is not stressed at all. 

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Stress is a difficult weight to carry and, if left untreated, can take its toll on the body, causing a number of health issues including high blood pressure and heart disease, among other problems such as anxiety and depression. 

How can we endure the ongoing blows of inflation without letting it eat away at our mental health?

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Consider these exclusive tips from a variety of mental health workers, including financial therapists. 

Understand How You Feel About Money

“Getting to the root of how you feel about money now (anxious, avoidant, etc.) is key to understanding how you want to feel about money in the future (i.e., calm, relaxed, confident),” said Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, certified financial therapist (CFT-I). “Writing down or logging how you feel about money can help alleviate stress and strengthen your money mindset.”

Focus On the Here and Now

“Individuals should be extra cautious about checking things like retirement accounts if they’re 10+ years from retirement,” Bryan-Podvin said. “It’s a little like checking the weather for a trip you won’t be taking for years to come — highly inaccurate and likely to change. Reverting your attention to the things you can do today (writing down your financial goals, checking in with your money mood, etc.) will help boost financial confidence while staying grounded in the present moment.” 

Practice Free Stress Relief 

“Going for a long mindful walk in the mornings before starting the day may be helpful,” said Vanessa Williams, LCSW, a licensed therapist based in NYC. “Mindful walking is simply the practice of bringing your mind’s awareness to the surroundings around you when you are walking. Movement can be helpful in bringing your mind’s attention to your body and is a good source of stress relief. Sometimes when dealing with financial stress distractions are helpful, especially when you are doing everything you can and the rest is out of your control (i.e. the high rate of inflation).” 

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Practice Self-Compassion

“Remind yourself you are doing the best that you can in a pretty awful situation,” Williams said. “Practice loving kindness. Remind yourself you are doing the best that you can when you notice your self talk becoming critical to your financial situation. Accept the things you cannot change and take action on the things you can change about your financial situation.”

Ask For Help From Friends 

“There may be people available in your immediate network of friends and family who have in the past experienced financial difficulties, [and] they may know of resources or helpful tools to help alleviate your financial burden,” Williams said. “Asking for help also normalizes the financial stress and lets you know that you are not alone dealing with this problem. When we normalize the problem we are more likely to get help from our communities. For example, if financial stress is causing someone to work longer hours to keep up with bills, seeking help from a trusted neighbor or family member to barter services might be effective. For example, a neighbor may carpool your children to school while you agree to cook for them one night of the week.”

Keep Morale High With Financial ‘Quick Wins’ 

“As a financial therapist, something I see often with clients is a lack of motivation to keep on-track with their budgeting and maintain a positive mentality,” Bryan-Podvin said. “By setting attainable goals and celebrating the small wins, we can establish a positive relationship with savings in a way that feels good. For example, apps like Upwise offer unique challenges for individuals like their dining out challenge to keep users engaged in a fun and rewarding way. These types of financial ‘quick wins’ have psychological benefits, all of which can bolster an individual’s financial health and well-being.”

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Change Your Words

“The thoughts you think — and cling to as fact — influence your feelings, which influence your behaviors, which influence your results,” said Elisa Tidswell, a certified business coach-consultant, money-mindset coach, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. “In other words, [words] you say to yourself actually create your world. To begin to relieve emotional stress around our finances, we can choose to start empowering ourselves with positive self talk.

“For example, instead of saying ‘My finances are in such a mess,’ ‘we’ll never get out of this,’ ‘it’s going to be impossible to pay this debt off’ — all of which will result in a domino effect of negative emotions, poor choices and bad results — try saying things like ‘I’m learning to organize my finances,’ ‘I’ve figured out everything so far in life, I’ll figure this out too,’ ‘many others have paid off debt larger than this; if they found a way, I can too.’

“These words may not feel true at first, but with repetition, they will begin to create new neural pathways in our brain, give us more energy, and help us to see greater opportunities.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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