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How to self soothe when you’re dealing with anxiety (financial or otherwise)

how to manage financial anxiety

 

I’ve previously written about how I had started thinking about mindset work as my full time job.

Let me amend that.

When it comes to money and life, I’ve realised, regulating your nervous system (that’s brain AND body) is what supports you in making sustainable progress and simply easing the regular ups and downs.

It’s the foundation for feeling relaxed, safer, optimistic, confident day to day.

Thoughts create feelings; they can and do absolutely influence them. One thought can change it all. One different perspective can open up a whole new dimension. One new lens can instantly shift how you feel.

As you become more skilled at managing your thoughts and shoring up your mindset, though, you start running into limits. Because working from the neck up inherently limits you. You can only go so far without venturing lower.

Our massive brains are what set us apart, but we’re still mammals.

The vagus nerve is a communications and sensory superhighway, connecting the brain and various organs. Like the main control room for our fight/flight response. It sends signals from brain to body, but mostly, vice versa – body to brain.

It’s not all in your head

“It’s all in your head” we say, but in fact, it goes so much further than that, deeper than the subconscious even, beyond to cellular level. Your body, physical reactions, the state of your nervous system.

Imagine you overspent, blew your budget, miscalculated and went totally overboard with brunches and drinks and dinners and takeaways last month. Yikes.

Maybe your jaw clenches. Shoulders go up. You feel tense and hot, but also a bit disembodied, disconnected, frozen. This immediate, instinctual reaction is automatic. The dysregulation going on there shows up in your body instinctively.

Anytime you do anything with or even think about money, emotions can trigger you into fight or flight mode. It’s a subconscious response to money anxiety. Obviously you can’t function well or think clearly or act brilliantly in that stressed out mode.

It all gets easier when…

You can start being more conscious and compassionate with yourself. Cultivating safety and comfort at every level and every step. That opens up space to go even bigger and beyond. That’s the real key to getting, well, whatever it is you want, ultimately.

This is the work: being okay where you are right now, so you can then clear the way to take things to the next level from here.

You can feel scarcity and fear at any level, any point. You can feel guilt and shame at any point. Soothing yourself at every step helps you start expanding past those familiar internal set points you’re so used to.

9 ways to return to neutral

Stressed about money or something else in life? Get back to baseline in the moment by doing something for both your brain and body.

Brain

  • Think about how much you can buy with the money you already have, right now. Or, think about 3 things you can appreciate right now
  • List all the ways you could take action to generate cash today. Or, think about 3 things you can do now that would feel 10% better than what you’re currently doing

Body

  • Turn your head sideways, 90 degrees to your body, and hold for 30-60 secs. You’ll start to feel your whole body relax subtly, like a reset
  • Stand, focus on your breathing, in and out, and shift your weight from side to side, foot to foot, aligned with your breathing
  • Grab something in your hands (stress balls are great, or anything similar) and move it from hand to hand, side side, across the centre line of your body – think like a pendulum
  • Make your entire body stiff like an uncooked pasta noodle and hold for a minute, then consciously relax
  • Vocalise out loud! Brrrrrrr is a classic, but any sound you feel coming through you is great – do this till you feel some release
  • Shake, move, dance, stomp, rock your body – get very physical and move that energy through
  • Do a round or two of EFT tapping (there’s lots of videos on YouTube)

Self-soothing when it comes to money

How often do you handle, interact with, touch money in some way? A lot, right? Add to that, how often are you thinking about money?

Imagine if all those touchpoints were a little more positive. What a difference that might make.

How can you bring a little more positivity and safety into them?

The more goodness you can inject, the bigger the ripple effect… infusing and informing the overall holistic relationship.

Create stress free spaces for managing money. Low stress money dates where you go over your finances, celebrate progress and momentum, make plans for the future. Pair with delicious snacks and treats.

Create parameters for safety that you can set and honour. You may chafe at structure and rules generally in life. I know I do. But they can actually be an ally here. Guardrails to guide your experiments or baby steps into the unknown, and ringfence risks or losses. Playing with a business idea? Give yourself permission to try, with a set allowance for experimenting. Making bigger investing moves? You can decide on limits, set stop orders for buying or selling. Have kill criteria for any money moves – a point at which you call time and quit like a pro.

This goes for more than money

This doesn’t just apply to financial anxiety. It goes for everything else in life, too. Anything that feels hard, tough, sticky. That isn’t flowing the way you’d like. Where you don’t feel great.

You can start shifting it from the inside out.

Pause and get clarity. How do you want to feel instead? Identify your desired feeling, and think back to other instances when you felt this way. Recall exactly how it felt, and the circumstances that led to it.

With this in mind… How can you get more of that? Kindle that flame? Expand that kernel? What step could you take right now to get closer to that feeling?

It’s like… preplanning success. Celebrating it now, despite our lifelong indoctrination to ‘not count the chickens till they hatch’. In a practical sense, that is fantastic advice.

But internally, creating a sense of success in your body – a memory ahead of time – goes a long way toward prepping your nervous system for receiving and accepting it. Like athletes visualise doing the thing, triumphing, ahead of time … you can do the same with anything in your own life, no matter how mundane.

Because when success feels unfamiliar, parts of you aren’t really open to it, and are even repelling it. Shout, move, dance, pump your fists, whatever you would actually do when the time comes. Practise it. Embody it. Encode it.

This is how liberation starts

From within. Cultivating true and lasting financial power is an inside job.

Then, it’s always with you. Accompanying you wherever you go; it becomes part of you.

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