I know what you’re thinking. Anxiety is a buzz word right now. The world and his wife is lining up to talk about their anxiety and mental health. It’s one of the few things I’m grateful to the Kardashians for. The Kardashians made opening up that little bit easier because they normalized talking about feelings. So today we will look at an anxious mind and money.
What is anxiety?
It’s simply a state or worry or tension that can range from mild to severe. At some point everyone experiences anxiety. Lets say you’ve a big party to plan for your brother and you’re feeling stressed because you have so much to do. Chances are you’re also dealing with some anxiety. Anxious that guests won’t arrive or anxious that you haven’t enough food organized. That form of anxiety is fairly reasonable I’d imagine.
Anxiety left unchecked and unmanaged is exhausting and can lead to poor mental health.
So what is an anxious mind?
This isn’t my area of expertise but as someone living with an anxious mind I believe I can talk on it a little. While some anxiety is to be expected in life, an anxious mind can spend a big chunk of time in an anxious state. What does that even mean? Ok let me give an example. It’s the first day of big school for your first born. You’re anxious that they might struggle to fit in or to learn the new rules. You’re anxious they won’t adjust to the big changes well or maybe they will struggle with toileting on their own. Whatever the anxiety your feeling in this scenario is perfectly normal.
An anxious mind like mine is coping with all of that and more. My mind starts to worry about if I’m allowed to walk them into the classroom. Where do I go when my child is sitting down? Should I stay with them or should I speak to the teacher. Maybe I should figure out what I’ll say to the teacher. What do I call the teacher? Do I use their title or their given name?
All of that goes through an anxious mind in a very short space of time. If it only stopped there it wouldn’t be so bad. No instead we tear apart every word we said, every word the teacher said, every facial expression and the body language given off. Bet I looked like an idiot when I said.. I’m sure the teacher thought I was “one of those parents” because.. I definitely annoyed the other parents by taking up so much of the teachers time when they needed to get off to work.. etc. The list goes on.
Oh boy this is where the real fun is. Someone who isn’t prone to anxiety will make a friend and that’s it. Yes they will fall out from time to time. Yes they will have disagreements and yes they will need to work on the relationship now and again. A friend with an anxious mind might struggle with maintaining the friendship in a healthy way. In this scenario we will assume it is a new acquaintance and a budding friendship in the making. For one person it is a simple case of meeting a person they like and enjoy hanging out with. For the other person its a series of anxiety ridden thoughts such as..
Are they only talking to me because they feel sorry for me or to be polite?
Am I taking up too much of their time? I’m sure there is someone they would much rather be talking to right now.
Why did I have to say that? Now they won’t want to speak to me again.
Lets assume now the friendship has progressed and the relationship is well established. Would it surprise you to learn those thoughts don’t go away? Those thoughts continue to crop up but now there is an added challenge. There is a friendship that needs to be nurtured and taken care of. Sounds bonkers doesn’t it? The very thing the person wanted was a friend and now they have one they’re just as anxious not to mess it up. Thoughts such as..
Am I am a toxic friend? I’m forever dumping my struggles on my friend. Surely they’ll get sick of me sharing all my drama soon.
I promised I’d do something but now I don’t feel I can. Is my friend going to be cross? What if they don’t forgive me?
I’m the friend they feel sorry for. They’d much rather be talking to the “normal” friend who doesn’t always have issues.
An anxious mind and money
Money is no different. An anxious mind and money go together about as well as oil and water. There is always a worry of some description around money. Most people do feel some anxiety around finances. In an issue of the Irish Examiner from 2019 it is claimed that 44% of workers face financial strain that leads to money stress.
Someone struggling with financial anxiety might overspend to make themselves feel better in the moment. They may have been under financial strain and found themselves doing some shopping to relieve the stress temporarily. Then they find themselves worried about the overspending. This creates a vicious circle. It’s hard to break this pattern but it is do-able.
Another person with financial anxiety might hoard money to create a sense of security. This person is trapped in a constant state of fear that they don’t have enough to cover an emergency or day to day living costs. Perhaps they’ve known financial struggle before and so they’re afraid of going back to that place. They might not realize that money is a tool to be used.
These are two extreme ends of the spectrum. There are, of course, a whole range of ways that financial anxiety manifests itself.
How to cope?
The first step in my opinion is to realize and accept there is an issue. That’s not to say that everyone who over spends or hoards money is struggling with anxiety. If you think you’re dealing with anxiety please do get the opinion of a medical professional such as your G.P.
However anxious mind or not budgeting can be a great source of comfort for anyone. It gives control back to the individual over their own finances. Making decisions about your future and focusing on what you can control.
If you’re interested in learning how to budget I have another blog post you can find here. This blog post outlines a step by step process for beginning to budget. Included are some free printables to help get you started.
A fantastic article on getting in control of your money was written by the Irish Independent. It discusses money management strategies that beginners and long term budgeters can benefit from.
Where ever you find yourself financially there is help available. For free, impartial and confidential financial support consider reaching out to MABS. They are an organization dedicated to helping people get better control over their financial situation. An anxious mind and money issues can be healed with the right support!