Dealing With Financial Stress: Rhythm Over RoutineMar 16, 2022
How do you deal with stress? Honestly, in your everyday life, when you face financial stress or your partner gets on your nerves, how do you deal with it? Do you take a few deep breaths before responding, or do you blurt whatever comes to mind? Do you spend money to feel better or obsessively check your bank account? Maybe you handle stress well in the moment only to cry it out over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s later. Or perhaps you distract yourself with a TV show or romance novel. Maybe it depends on the day.
Our responses to stress are embedded much deeper in our lives than we think. Some are obvious and maybe even healthy, while others are so automatic we don’t even notice them. The key to dealing with stress in a healthier way is to first identify the rhythms and routines you already have in place, and then harness the power of those rhythms to reduce stress with small adjustments.
Rhythm Over Routine
Routine is a buzzword that’s becoming more popular every day. There’s tons of great advice out there from people sharing what routines worked for them to lose weight, cope with anger, save more money, build better relationships, and the list goes on. Creating a routine can be extremely helpful when working toward your goals. Unfortunately, simply trying to copy someone else’s routine never seems to stick or yield us the same results.
Instead of looking for a routine fix to deal with financial stress or live a more fulfilling life, focus on the rhythm of your mind. Rhythm is about incorporating good habits and routines into your natural flow of life instead of trying to force yourself into a routine box that doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
Finding Your Rhythm
How do you wake up in the morning? Are you happy to greet a new day with time to sip on your coffee, read, or move your body? Or are you late running out the door looking for your keys? What does bedtime look like for you, and do you regularly get enough sleep? Are you a morning or a night person? Your rhythm will not look like someone else's, and that’s a good thing. Your brain is wired uniquely with your own thoughts, experiences, patterns, and behaviors, and your rhythms in life will reflect this neurodiversity. What’s important is that your rhythm works best for you.
Examine your working style and the rhythms of your day. Pay attention to rhythms in your life like:
- How you start your day
- How you end your day
- Your work day and work habits
- Your breaks and time for rest
- How you respond to setbacks or stress (finances, family, work, etc.)
- How you take care of yourself
- How you handle money
- How and when you move your body
- How you talk to yourself
- How you give and receive love
If you look closely, you can see some of the areas of life where stress is more likely to rear its head. You also begin to see where slight changes to the rhythms in life can help reduce stress.
Using Rhythm to Deal With Financial Stress
If you deal with financial stress regularly, consider the triggers or when you find yourself most stressed. Ask why and identify critical areas where you can make minor adjustments to reduce stress. For example, if you deal with financial stress as a solopreneur, you might notice intense stress every time you check your bank account balance. This could be due to fear or feeling out of control of your finances. A small adjustment, like scheduling a monthly money check-in to evaluate your cash flow could help reduce your stress around bank balance checks and give you more feelings of control over your finances since you’re more aware of your money in general.
Dealing With Financial Stress as a Couple
This concept of rhythm applies in relationships as well. For example, if you deal with financial stress as a couple, it can be helpful to identify the rhythms of money in your relationship and see where stress tends to crop up. Where do feelings of money stress come from? What triggers it? If you can identify key areas of strain, you can adjust the rhythm of your financial conversations and decisions to reduce the stress. For example, suppose one partner tends to spend more spontaneously than the other and it becomes a stressor. In that case, some adjustments to consider might be a monthly money check-in, a discretionary spending fund, or conversation for a deeper understanding of your partner’s money story and the “why” behind the spending pattern.
Your Rhythm and Your Stress Response
Your immediate responses to stress are all about rhythm too. How you respond in the moment when faced with an uncomfortable situation tends to follow a pattern, or rhythm, based on how you’ve responded to stress in the past. You can use the power of rhythm in your responses to stress in the moment as well.
For example, I do a range of body movements throughout the week - barre, yoga, walking, and cycling. This helps me connect and create a rhythm between my body and my mind. On long bike rides, I get into a zone where I feel connected, body and mind. I may feel stressed or anxious about a work matter and use the power of rhythm. Going on a bike ride helps me to clear my mind and reduce my emotions so that I am either less hard on myself or I can come up with a different solution. Identify your own rhythms and routines already embedded in your life. Use the natural power of rhythm to make small adjustments and add purposeful habits that fit your lifestyle along the way.
If you want to learn more about dealing with financial stress as a solopreneur, or need help working through financial stress in your relationship, I’d love to hear from you. Book a free consultation with me today to discuss your path to finding your financial rhythm, financial independence, a more purposeful life, and a healthier relationship with your money.
Questions: email [email protected]
Mariah Hudler, MSW, MBA, CFT-I™ is a financial therapist, coach & consultant, who provides premarital financial counseling, financial therapy, financial coaching & consulting, and financial wellbeing services. She works with individuals, couples, entrepreneurs, and groups to build their balance and create a healthy relationship with money.
Disclaimer: This blog is for education only. Please consult with a qualified professional when you have any questions about your personal financial, tax, or legal situation. Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional advice.
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