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Self-care: Dealing with financial stress

A licensed clinical social worker discusses ways to manage stress surrounding finances.

BOISE, Idaho — The American Psychological Association reported that 75% of Americans cite money as a significant cause of stress prior to the pandemic.

“We know that the pandemic has impacted people financially,” said Angie Radford, a licensed clinical social worker at Optum Idaho. “What we don’t have are those new numbers from this last year.”

Radford said stress around money is very consuming, affecting both your physical and mental health.

“You can’t fix the past and you can’t totally eliminate the stress that it’s caused in your life, but you can work to manage it,” Radford added.

The clinical social worker said the first thing everyone should do is pause, and try not to panic so you can identify your financial stressors and come up with a plan.

“You can then write down ways you can reduce your expenses, or your manage your finances more effectively,” Radford said. “Then you want to commit to that plan and review it regularly.”

After creating a plan, Radford recommends looking inward at how you deal with stress related to money. She added it’s common for people to resort to gambling, drinking, and emotional eating during tough economic times, among other things.

“Stress can also lead to additional arguing in your household,” Radford said “So just being aware and on the lookout for these behaviors, that can then help you to manage those.”

Next, Radford said to look at tough economic times as a growth opportunity.

“You want to think of ways that these economic challenges can really motivate you to find healthier ways to deal with this stress, and we do hear those positive stories,” she said. “Families are staying at home for dinner to save money, but also becoming closer together.”

Radford adds that it’s okay to reach out for professional help.

“There are credit counseling services, there are financial planners that are available that can really help you take control of your money situation.”

If you continue to be overwhelmed by stress, even if you are receiving financial counseling, you should never be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional.

You can call the Optum member access and crisis line at 855-202-0973 or call the Idaho careline at 2-1-1.

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