How to navigate financial stress like a pro? Here are tips and tricks

Financial stress is common and can lead to persistent anxiety, impacting physical health. Acknowledging the role of money in stress is crucial for finding solutions within oneself rather than blaming external factors.

Lisa Pallavi Barbora
Published23 Jun 2024, 03:06 PM IST
Resolving money stress involves identifying sources, changing beliefs, and making small changes to align behavior with values and reality.
Resolving money stress involves identifying sources, changing beliefs, and making small changes to align behavior with values and reality.

Deep money conversations always lead to the realisation that money touches all aspects of our lives. Several life decisions are contextualised within financial values and behaviours. It’s not that money is the sole factor that matters, but that it is one of the key factors across life decisions be it about education, profession, marriage or even having children.

When a life variable is an important determinant of choices we make, it has an equal ability to bring peace or stress. Clearly, if peace is the outcome you don’t have to do anything to change, but if your money decisions are causing you stress, you have to consider transforming your decision making and behaviour.

In fact, money can become a source of chronic stress. A number of different situations around personal money can cause individuals’ persistent worry. The stress of repaying a large sized housing loan, the stress of not earning enough to qualify for a large loan you need to buy a house, the stress of losing your job, the stress of not being able to change a low paying job, the stress of medical expenses, the stress of not being financially as independent as your sibling, the stress of being a non-earning member of the family, the stress of being the only earning member of the family and the list can go on and on and on.

These kinds of situations can become responsible for a daily dose of anxiety which then shows up as weight gain or back pain or mood swings and unnecessary arguments. It’s proven that sustained stress alters physiological systems in the body and impacts immunity too. If you too are going through a stressful money situation, wouldn’t you like to find a way out?

Acknowledgement and awareness

Financial stress is common. We have all faced it at some stage in our lives. It may be short lived for some and may persist for others. When it persists, you get to thinking whether the problem lies within; are you guilty of making wrong choices, repeatedly?

When we talk about acknowledging the role of money matters in causing unmanageable or persistent anxiety, the idea is not to encourage taking the blame for it. At the same time, there is merit in acknowledging that the responsibility for any change lies solely with you.

Let’s say you have been recruited by a firm for a particular type of job, but a week into this job you realise that most of your time gets used up in doing something completely different. It’s not what you are keen to do, nevertheless, you don’t protest because you’re new in the system.

A year later, it’s the same and you are still doing a job that you weren’t hired for and you’re not interested in. By now you are probably too tired at the end of every day, you feel no joy when you wake up in the morning and you are angry by the time you turn on the computer at work. This is stress. Still, you are unable to say no, because you feel guilty or you’re just caught up in the cycle or maybe you need the money. In such situations, it’s easier to blame the organisation or your boss for not being structured.

Looked at from a different perspective, it is a situation that you can take responsibility for and change. For example, one way to change could be to start saving a higher portion of your income to create a cushion that allows you to quit this job even if you don’t have the next opportunity identified. You can even think about using a part of your income towards upskilling or studying more to enhance your ability to get a better job.

This is just one example, once you acknowledge and become aware of the source of stress you are always in a better position to find solutions within, rather than blaming others.

Coping with financial stress

In order to resolve your money stress, you have to first identify the source. A lot of the stress around money is often linked to this invisible belief system that we carry around and are too stubborn to acknowledge or change. This results in us chasing an outcome regardless of whether we desire it or not, simply because we’re already on that path and believe it’s the only path.

Mostly stress will come from feeling that you do not have enough to fulfil needs and desires or that you are undeserving or unable to earn more. First identify the primary emotion behind the anxiety that persists. Then identify the source of that feeling, is it your job, family members or a deep-seated money belief.

Once you identify the problem, think about your reality. If the problem goes away, how badly do you want this new reality to be true? The last step is to consider one small change you can make to alter that which is stopping you from changing the situation.

Of all the reasons that are there, external circumstances over which you have no control (eg: COVID) are the hardest to resolve. Unless you are prepared with a good cushion of accumulated investments and savings and hedged with the right type of investments you will struggle. Everything else can be resolved by showing a willingness to change your circumstance and belief system.

One expert tip for you to begin, start writing it down; from the stage of acknowledgement to identifying emotions and the source of stress, the written word is a reminder to move forward. Resolving money stress is about transforming your own behaviour to align with your reality and your values; an attempt to metamorphose with focus on your future.

Lisa Pallavi Barbora is a financial coach and founder of


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First Published:23 Jun 2024, 03:06 PM IST
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