Kelly McGonigal Debt Stress

Dr Kelly McGonigal: “Stress is only bad if you believe it is.”

Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford University said that: “What’s dangerous about debt is how pervasive and chronic it is. Most things in life that stress us out—a car accident, a divorce, a death in the family—happen, and then they’re over. Our bodies are designed to respond to these ‘emergencies’ and bounce back, whereas owing money can become completely inescapable.”

Just because something is ‘completely inescapable’ doesn’t mean we have to endure it. We have the opportunity to change our mind about our circumstances. Here are three tips to a new mindset.

Look at the meaning you attach to money.

Do you associate money with freedom, does money give you a sense of power, or a sense of self-worth? Spend ten minutes each day for a week to dig a little deeper and examine what emotional value you place on money. Ask yourself questions like: Why is having more money keeping me up at night? Why are some brand names important to my image? Don’t pressure yourself for answers, this isn’t an exercise to produce more stress, just let the answers come to you. Write them down, we’ll use them for the next step.

Find alternatives way to provide meaning. 

Using the responses you gathered from the first step, look and see if you can find an alternative to money that would produce the same feeling. Could the sense of freedom be gained from playing with your children on a carefree day at the beach or a play at the park, breathing in the fresh air and spending time in the sunshine? Or could you gain a sense of physical strength by lifting weights to replace the sense of power you think money provides. What are your alternatives to swap meanings and create a positive state of mind around money?

Change a habit. 

They say it takes 21 times of doing something to change a habit. I personally think it would take me 21 years to change some of my habits but small steps are still steps. Some steps are more like a shuffle, perhaps even a tango with the to-ing and fro-ing that comes with changing mental habits. When you find the alternatives, do them regularly. Keep doing them to reinforce that feeling you are inducing without needing to use money to do that. And remember! A very important key factor here is to not punish yourself when you have a set back and reward yourself when you feel like you’ve moved forward.

We would love for you to share your experiences with us here at our Let’s Talk About Debt Community….  Or you can simply share your thoughts on this blog post.