While Sabina Wex is comfortable with her career as a freelance writer and podcast producer, she still experiences financial stress each month and wonders if she’ll be able to pay the bills.

“Rent and cost of living outside of rent are very expensive,” says Wex. “Sometimes your Visa bill is as much or more than your rent.”

In your case, Wex relies on Visa for all non-rental expenses to track expenses and obtain cash reimbursement. He also has financial fears for not paying bills on time and dealing with the possible consequences of that, such as having his hydroelectric plant shut down.

“I am afraid of going from having a normal life to being completely destitute,” he says. “I feel really catastrophic about it.”

According to the FP Canada Financial Stress Index released in early June, Wex is not alone.

For the fifth time in eight years, Canadians surveyed by Leger, on behalf of FP Canada, say money is their number one source of stress (38 per cent), much more of a concern than personal health (21 per cent), work (19 percent) and relationships (18 percent).

Rising costs for gasoline, groceries and housing along with interest rate hikes contribute to stress levels, the survey reveals. And the consequences can be serious, with one in three reporting that financial stress has led to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

Financial therapy is a method professionals use to help clients with both their money and their mental health. The Financial Therapy Association says that it “helps people think, feel, communicate and behave differently around money to improve overall well-being through evidence-based practices and interventions.”

The Star spoke to three professionals who practice financial therapy about how to spot financial stress and ease it.

Alaphia Financial Wellness owner Natasha Knox, a financial planner who uses this type of therapy in her business, says stress about money looks different for everyone, but it can often show up as avoidance or obsession.

“Sometimes when finances become overwhelming, people walk away and don’t want to look or think about it. They start to ignore the situation,” says Knox. “To other people, it may seem like an obsession, like repeatedly checking your investment balance. It can also lead to trying to Google answers on topics that may not have answers.”

These include questions like, “how much higher will inflation go? How Much Further Could the Stock Market Fall? When will gas prices drop? Should I wait to buy real estate or buy now?”

Between the extremes of avoidance and obsession, financial stress can come in other forms, Knox says, like arguments or focusing on someone else’s spending.

How financial stress shows up depends on how someone deals with emotional pain, says Knox.

“If you take the word financial out, it’s another form of stress,” says Knox. “My suggestion would be to see what is working in other domains of their lives to manage stress. That would be a starting point.”

For some, that’s being in nature, she says. For others, it’s practicing mindfulness and assessing whether her thoughts are in the present or some imagined future. Often the stress can stem from past trauma or from imagining future events that she cannot control.

“It’s important to focus on what’s in your control and what you can fix,” says Knox.

If the markets are stressing you out, then it’s time to reduce the amount of time you spend reflecting on your investments. Creating or modifying a financial plan can also be a way to deal with stress.

Amanda Mills, a financial therapist at Loose Change Inc., tries to help clients avoid being trapped by equating their sense of security or freedom with money. These types of attachments can lead people astray because they will work too hard to earn money for “freedom”, but never experience freedom because they are too busy working.

One thing you’ll teach them to say to their customers is, “Money is just money.”

“Try not to think of it as your value or that your entire success depends on it,” she says, which is difficult in a culture that values ​​money. For customers who are feeling stressed, Mills recommends taking a break before cutting back on spending.

“When people panic about money,” says Mills, “they try to cut everywhere instead of sitting down for a moment and figuring out how bad the problem is.

“I’ve seen people with a big problem who try to deal with it by just cutting back on food and then never get the food they like and never get their financial problem solved,” she says. “Until you know that number, it is very difficult to correct it.”

One of the first things people tend to eliminate is their guilty pleasure, elements that are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, says Mills.

“I had a customer who loved a certain type of cheese and felt that times were tight and they couldn’t have the cheese anymore. When we looked at the cost of cheese, it was an extra $50 per year. It was no big deal. So eat the cheese.

Brenda St Louis, Certified Money Coach and Financial Therapist at Rewire, says that one of the best ways to manage financial stress is to simply talk about it.

“There are so many secrets and taboos around money,” says St Louis. “People don’t talk about their financial stress with people and they pretend a lot that everyone is okay.”

One of the most powerful changes you see with clients is when they talk to their peers about what they are doing with their money so they can learn from each other and share their struggles. Since everyone feels so alone with their money, you can create a sense of being in this together.

“Stop hiding your financial life from others,” she says.

For Wex, learning to be more open about her fears around money has lightened the load.

“I think that helped relieve a lot of financial stress because you realize that everyone is worried about it or maybe you’re doing the same thing as everyone else or not as bad as you think,” Wex said. “You don’t really know what’s going on in people’s bank accounts unless you talk.”

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