Meditation for financial stress
Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night worrying about money? Calculating income. Feeling guilty about spending. Stressing about debt. If so, you’re not alone. Feeling anxiety and shame about finances is practically universal. In fact, 60 percent of Americans say that money is a significant source of stress, according to the 2019 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association.
Meditation might not be the most obvious go-to when it comes to stressing over money — and the toll it can take on your sleep, your health, and your relationships. But it’s worth exploring how this tool for the mind can help you alleviate financial stress, allowing you to experience a more mindful relationship with money and in turn feel more at peace with life.
Feel more empowered with a new perspective on money from financial education expert and entrepreneur Tonya Rapley.
Watch Confronting Debt | 5 minutes
Many people find money to be so stressful they simply avoid it altogether — for example, putting off opening bank statements and credit card bills, or avoiding difficult but necessary conversations about money with family members. But avoiding financial issues can create more problems — and more stress — in the future. That’s why it can be helpful to learn how to utilize effective stress-management tools like meditation to ease money stress.
First, consider the numerous studies showing that meditation can help reduce stress. A 2018 study found that people who used Headspace for only 10 days reported an 11% decrease in stress; after 30 days of using Headspace, they reported a 32% decrease. A separate 2018 study showed that medical students who used Headspace for 10 days had a 12% decrease in stress; this number rose to 17% after 60 days. Impressive, right? Meditation is so effective for people who consistently practice because it reprograms the brain to be more open and less reactive, so ultimately, they can respond more effectively to stress of any kind.
Responding more effectively to challenge can be particularly helpful when we’re dealing with financial stress. Instead of ruminating on or battling with stressful thoughts and feelings about money, meditation helps you train your mind to learn to gently lean into them — confront them, if you will — essentially diminishing their power over us. In a more open, less reactive state, you can actually face the reality of your finances instead of avoiding or denying it, stay present, and take concrete steps to become more financially healthy.
Moreover, meditation can help you to cultivate clarity and presence of mind, so you can be really focused on the things in life that are most important to you. This way you can be more likely to make decisions that improve your financial situation and less likely to be distracted or waylaid by destructive financial impulses.
Meditation can be an important tool to help you undo old beliefs around money, or long-held stories that you’ve told yourself for years. Our relationship with money, and particularly how we view it, all begins in the mind, and is often shaped not only by our own experiences, but the experiences of our parents and grandparents. Undoing those ancient narratives and understanding more about how your thoughts around money play out, begins with a meditation practice.
If you’d like some guidance, there are several relevant courses on Headspace that are a good place to start.
In the Mindful Money collection (available only to Headspace subscribers), money experts and entrepreneurs talk through ways to develop a more mindful relationship with money and the feelings it stirs up, from spending habits to shame. This four-part collection covers a range of topics for people of all income levels:
Confronting Debt shares a new perspective that makes debt easier to approach.
Budgeting Basics reveals how to lay the foundation for a stable financial future.
How to Talk About Money shares how open conversations can lead to healthier relationships with our own finances and the people we love.
Mindful Spending presents tips for being an empowered spender.
Financial expert Alex Holder shares guidance on practicing awareness of your shopping habits and reframing your relationship with the checkout button.
Watch Mindful Spending | 5 minutes
The 10-day Managing Financial Stress course (available only to Headspace subscribers) explores ways to approach finances with skill and self-compassion. By walking through ways to practice patience, awareness, and kindness in the face of money challenges, it’s possible to change the way they impact your mental health.
Headspace on Prioritization (available only to Headspace subscribers) is a 10-day course that helps cut through all the noise and distractions competing for your attention, and achieve some much-needed clarity on what matters most to you and what needs to be prioritized. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts from stressing about money, Headspace on Balance (also available only to Headspace subscribers) can help ground you, so you can respond mindfully to financial challenges instead of reacting mindlessly.
Most of us are familiar with the common financial stress symptoms such as experiencing fear, worry, regret, hopelessness or other uncomfortable feelings. But stressing about money can also lead to serious health problems.
For one thing, think about all those aforementioned hours of lost sleep, which are actually a lot more common than you’d expect: Sixty-eight percent of women and 56 percent of men say they lose sleep occasionally because they’re worried about money. The fact is, lack of sleep is nothing to yawn about when it comes to your health. It can lead to an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, unhealthy eating habits, as well as impair your short and long-term memory, decision-making abilities, attention, and reaction time.
And that’s not all. Research shows that Americans who report poor financial health tend to have poor physical health; more specifically, 59 percent do not get routine check-ups; 60 percent do not get regular exercise; and 38 percent are more likely to skip preventative health measures due to cost, compared to people who report good financial health. There’s also research showing that people with greater financial stress have more symptoms of depression and anxiety; get more migraines; are more likely to complain of ulcers and digestive issues; and have high blood pressure. In other words, there definitely seems to be a connection between wealth and health.
If you’re looking for even more meditation tips and guidance, Headspace offers a 10-day beginner’s course on the essentials of meditation — available for free — which is an ideal way to start building a strong foundation for a daily meditation practice. From there, you can explore a whole library of content, featuring hundreds of themed mindfulness meditations on everything from Letting Go of Stress and Navigating Change to Finding Focus and Dealing with Regret.