Money and Panic: 3 Temporary Fixes for Anxiety

Anxiety about money:

It’s real, ever-present, and annoying. I’ve got a lot of it, and I know I’m not the only one. In fact, I think I would be in the minority if I didn’t. Some of the personal finance worry comes from the fact that I’m super single and share the financial burdens of life with no one else. I can’t complain too much since it’s the way I want to live my life, but the resultant anxiety can be overwhelming at times.

Circumstantially, another part of the anxiety stems from my decision to quit my (well-paying) big-girl job to go work on a (not as well-paying) cruise ship. Life after #shiplife, I’m employed and side hustling my butt off, but not pulling in the same income as before. I 100% believe it was all worth the life adventure, but for anyone else considering the same, do take into account the real-world consequences for short-sighted actions, won’t you?

In times of panic, I remind myself of the facts: I’m paying my bills, I have a roof over my head (that I own!), and I’m lucky enough to know where my next meal will come from. For the harder times, I have health insurance that covers therapy in full, and for the milder times, there’s a few ways I calm my mind:

Actionable Ideas

Stress doesn’t need to be a bad thing, not if it can light a fire under your booty. To turn my stress into a positive force, I’ve made a deal with myself: I’m allowed to feel stressed and anxious and maybe even a little bit panicky, but only if I do something about it.

That’s why I’ve made myself a prefabricated list of actionable ideas.

Any time I feel The Dread of the Future settling over me, I turn to my list. I tell myself to do something on that list, or else the anxiety is useless and I’m wasting my time. It’s subjective, but it’s a good way to trick myself into putting in some time and effort toward goals. Productivity always feels good.

I’m aware it’s harsh, and I could probably stand to be a little more forgiving with myself. Certainly I’m much more patient and indulgent with others, as I understand that anxiety, at its worst, can be crippling. But, it’s what works for now, and I’m crossing things off my to-do list left and right!

My personal list of actionable ideas includes:

Listening to music

I rather think it’s a platitude to say, “If you want to calm down, light a candle, draw a bath, have a glass of wine, and listen to calming music.” Which, if it works for you, great! But…

That shit doesn’t work for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pampering sesh as much as the next person… but not as a treatment for anxiety. I don’t absorb the calmness of my atmosphere through osmosis. More often than not, I’m just worrying in a bathtub. Since I live alone, there’s no one around to distract me from my thoughts, and it’s easy to get caught in a negative, downward spiral. It usually happens when I’m driving, since I can’t turn to happy basset hound puppy videos on Youtube.

Instead, I blast my music. Yes, I turn the volume up as loud as it will go because then I literally cannot hear myself think.

I don’t know if there’s a name for the process. Regardless, it’s incredibly simple and effective. If I can’t ‘hear’ myself think, then I can’t get caught up in the maelstrom of negativity that’s whirling around in my brain. Usually, I blast ‘angry’ or some heavily synthesized EDM because it’s easy to channel my stress and anxiety into those genres (I know the name for that, at least: sublimation).

It’s a temporary solution (and, you know, not entirely great for your ears), but I’m grateful for anything non-substance that can turn my brain off for a moment.

When I’m not in the throes of anxiety, that’s when I do listen to the calming, ambient music like chillstep, trop-house, and retrowave. For Spotify users who dig it, check out these two playlists that I pretty much have playing any time I’m awake and not trying to drown out my thoughts:


 

Distracting, repetitive tasks

Speaking of things that turn the brain off: I make it a point to find things that can keep my mind engaged and my hands busy. What works for me are simple, creative, and repetitive tasks, like crocheting and coloring.

Crocheting

I’m about as casually into crocheting as one could be: one hook, no discernible yarn supply, only knowing how to do two stitches, so that means… I can make scarves. That’s it.

I plop myself in front of a light-hearted comedy (love me some Broad City on Comedy Central) and get busy. I work the skein of yarn until I have, what approximates to be, a scarf. There’s only so many scarves one person can reasonably own, so I usually give them away. Since I live in the state voted as having the worst winter second to Minnesota, I can usually find someone to pawn them off on.

Even if the respite is only for the two or three hours it takes me to make one scarf, at least that’s two to three hours of peace I wouldn’t normally have had. Anyone need a scarf?

Coloring Books

I’ll be honest. I used to think the trend of coloring books was that it was something people partook in ironically, a la hipster-chic. But, a friend invited me to a wine and coloring night at her house, and I cast aside all judgment for the free wine and went to town on coloring a bunny.

I was hooked.

If you’re a perfectionist and obsessed with tiny details, then coloring is the way – especially considering the arbitrary metric of success that is ‘coloring inside the lines’. It’s such a perfect way to turn the brain off because you focus so intently on things like color placement, composition, balance, blending, and other artistic qualities that, in the end, don’t really matter. I mean, it’s not a huge work project with a looming deadline. It’s just coloring for the sake of coloring, pure and simple.

.+++.

There’s definitely other and likely better ways to cope, but this is just what helps me out. How do you deal with the anxiety of life?

In case you haven’t already seen it, check out the Zelda Coloring Book Page I made, free download. At the time of this post, I’m currently about 25% the way through coloring it. I don’t know what I’ll do with it once I’ve finished. Maybe frame it? Send it to one of my readers?

Relaxation station.

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