Managing Your Stress in Tough Economic Times

Money is on the minds of most Americans. APA’s 2023 Stress in America survey found that all age groups reported money and the economy as significant stressors and that these stressors have increased since 2019. 82 percent of 18–34 year olds surveyed reported money as a significant stressor, compared to 77% of 35–44 year olds, 63% of 45–64 year olds, and 47% of 65+ year olds.

But, like most of our everyday stress, this extra tension can be managed. There are healthy strategies available for managing stress during any difficult financial time for you and your family.

Tips to help you deal with stress about money and the economy

Pause but don’t panic.

There are many negative stories in newspapers and on television about the state of the economy. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, but refrain from getting caught up in doom-and-gloom hype, which can lead to high levels of anxiety and bad decision making. Avoid the tendency to overreact or to become passive. Remain calm and stay focused.

Identify your financial stressors and make a plan.

Take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress. Write down specific ways you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your finances more efficiently. Then commit to a specific plan and review it regularly. Although this can be anxiety-provoking in the short term, putting things down on paper and committing to a plan can reduce stress. If you are having trouble paying bills or staying on top of debt, reach out for help by calling your bank, utilities, or credit card company.

Recognize how you deal with stress related to money.

In tough economic times some people are more likely to relieve stress by turning to unhealthy activities like smoking, drinking, gambling, or emotional eating. The strain can also lead to more conflict and arguments between partners. Be alert to these behaviors—if they are causing you trouble, consider seeking help from a psychologist or community mental health clinic before the problem gets worse.

Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change.

Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities to take stock of your current situation and make needed changes. Think of ways that these economic challenges can motivate you to find healthier ways to deal with stress. Try taking a walk—it’s an inexpensive way to get good exercise. Having dinner at home with your family may not only save you money, but help bring you closer together. Consider learning a new skill. Take a course through your employer or look into low-cost resources in your community that can lead to a better job. The key is to use this time to think outside the box and try new ways of managing your life.

Ask for professional support.

Credit counseling services and financial planners are available to help you take control over your money situation. If you continue to be overwhelmed by the stress, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your financial worries, manage stress, and change unhealthy behaviors.


This article was reprinted with permission by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Related Articles

Article Categories & Tags

The Latest Newsroom content delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to Mental Health Matters

Subscribe Today

Mental Health Matters!

Stay informed through news, stories, interviews, resources and more.