Financial Stress: 4 Easy Ways to Help Us Cope with it
With increasing prices and commodities as well as economic uncertainty that emerges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, many of us have been increasingly more worried about our finances. This sense of uneasiness and anxiety can harm our mental health due to the stress that can emerge.
This type of stress caused by financial problems is commonly caused as financial stress. What exactly is financial stress? How does Islam see wealth in relation to mental stability? What are the ways that we can take to help us manage financial stress?
Understanding Financial Stress and Its Symptoms
There are many things in life that can trigger stress and anxiety. Money is one of the common causes. A long period of unemployment, inability to pay bills, and mounting debts are just some of the problems that lead to financial stress.
If we are unable to manage our financial stress, it will end up harming our mental wellbeing. This will in turn hamper our ability to work and be productive, creating a vicious cycle that needs to be broken immediately.
How do we know if we are experiencing symptoms of mental stress? As listed by Lifeline Australia, some of the signs that you need to pay attention are the following:
- Arguing frequently about money with our closest circle
- Feeling guilty after spending money for non-essential items
- Worrying a lot or feeling anxious about money
- Difficulties sleeping
The situation can differ from one individual to another because what causes financial stress to an individual does not necessarily cause financial stress to others. Therefore, it is important to understand our situation, whether or not a certain financial problem causes mental distress to us.
Money and Peace of Mind: Gems from the Prophetic Tradition
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) never forbade us from seeking wealth. Rather, he teaches us to be reliant on Allah in all aspects of our lives including in worldly matters.
In a hadith narrated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Prophet (PBUH) stated that:
“If you were to rely upon Allah with the reliance He is due, you would be given provision like the birds: They go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening.” (Ibn Majah).
As the above hadith mentions, we are encouraged to seek provision, not just sit idly. However, as we work for money to support us and those under our responsibility, do not make the wealth itself the focus.
Rather, aim for Allah’s pleasure so you will be focused on what matters most. Set our goal for the hereafter, our eternal abode, and Allah will help us with our affairs.
Prophet Muhammad said in a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik:
“Whoever makes the Hereafter his goal, Allah makes his heart rich, and organizes his affairs, and the world comes to him whether it wants to or not. And whoever makes the world his goal, Allah puts his poverty right before his eyes, and disorganizes his affairs, and the world does not come to him, except what has been decreed for him.” (Tirmidhi).
In addition, don’t forget to fill our hearts with a sense of gratitude and contentment for what Allah has provided for us, for the true wealth is a grateful and content heart. Be thankful to Allah for what we have today, and don’t cripple our minds with anxiety over the future.
“Whoever among you wakes up in the morning secured in his dwelling, healthy in his body, having his food for the day, then it is as if the world has been gathered for him.” (Tirmidhi).
Lastly, do not hesitate to seek Allah’s assistance when we are dealing with financial hardship. Tie our heart to Him through the supplications that we make daily. A supplication that Prophet Muhammad taught one of the Companions when he was dealing with mounting debts is this:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Bukhari).
Above is the mindset that Islam teaches us in dealing with financial problems and stress. To read more about how Islam protects our mental soundness through sharia-compliant financial transactions, read the article below:
How to Manage Financial Stress
If we feel like our financial problems have had negative impacts on our mental health, the following tips adapted from Fortune will hopefully be able to lighten up our mental burdens in dealing with financial stress.
Recognize Our Emotions
The first thing to deal with our financial stress is to recognize that it is there. The next step is to regulate the negative emotions that are involved such as fear, and anxiety. One way to help us manage our negative emotions is to talk to family members and friends that are not judging.
We can also try meditating, journaling, exercise, and therapy to cope with our stress, as explained by Thema Bryant, Ph.D., president-elect of APA.
Manage What We Can Control
Don’t let the negative emotions overwhelm us. Once we’ve taken steps to regulate these crippling emotions, begin taking control of our lives by managing what we can manage.
Know our financial situation before taking actions so that what we do will be based on facts, not assumptions. Check our bank accounts, credit statements, bills, etc. Then, we can take other steps such as seeking other income sources, developing skills that can increase our income, and reading financial literacy books.
Give Ourselves a Little Treat
Although we are in a financially tight situation, don’t deprive ourselves of things we really need, including maybe some non-essential items to help us let go of that mental pressure.
“You get into a vicious cycle where people are not doing the things that make them happy and psychologically healthy because they want to save money. If it costs $10 to get into your favorite park, then you may say, ‘I’m not going to go.’ But maybe this is exactly the time when you do need to go to your favorite park, because this is when you need it most,” said Dennis P. Stolle, JD, Ph.D., APA’s senior director of applied psychology.
Seek Help From Experts
Don’t feel ashamed to recognize that we might not be able to solve the problems by ourselves. In that case, don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals. The sooner we get in touch with experts who can help us, the better our situation will be.
Get in touch with financial planners if you need professional opinions to help you manage your finances. Don’t know how to choose the right one for you? Here’s an article that can help you:
Even if you feel the need to contact a therapist or a psychiatrist, do it right away. Remember, just like we need medical treatments for our physical well being, at times we also need medical treatments for our mental health.
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