As a recent national survey from the American Psychological Association indicated, a great number of us are under significant stress, and not dealing well with it. With tax day stress looming here are some strategies for taking the edge off.
Using Coping Thoughts
Just like we can swap out an uncomfortable pair of jeans for a comfortable pair, we can swap out a painful thought (that is usually untrue), that is serving no good purpose, for one that is more adaptive (that is usually true). Here are some to try. You should only use those that you believe to be true
• Quoting Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert in the movie Happiness: “The difference in happiness between a person making $5,000 and $50,000 is dramatic. However, the difference in happiness between a person making $50,000 and $50,000,000 is not dramatic.”
• “I work my butt off. That’s all anyone can do at the end of the day.”
• “I can control taxes about as much as I can control dust mites. I’ve done the basic management strategies that I can so now it’s time to let it go.”
• My blessings are…(usually pretty impressive and important)
Using Behavioral Choices
• If you’re in a financial hole, seek out an expert. This might be an money expert who can help you to develop a plan for a flat fee. If you have a spending pattern you can’t control, then seek out a qualified mental health professional.
• Make sure to have fun and relax each week. Many believe they can’t make the time to do this because they have too much to get done. But, that’s like someone running a race with a ball and chain attached to the ankle. When someone hollers to them a willingness to cut it off they yell back “I can’t. I’ll lose ground in the race!” If you want to maximize the benefit from your fun make it social, novel (i.e., stuff you wouldn’t normally do) and physically active, at least to a degree that is healthy for you.
• Your wellness is stacked on top of a tripod, the legs of which are sleep, physical activity and nutrition. If one or more of those are problematic, prioritize fixing that. Experts are available to help with each of these.
• There are a number of strategies from the field of positive psychology that can help. Here are three to get you going: writing gratitude letters, performing acts of kindness and taking mini vacations.
Good luck and, in your worse moments, comfort yourself with the knowledge that there are many, many of us in the same boat!