One of the great things about working as a personal finance coach is that I get to help women enjoy breakthroughs as it relates to their relationship with money. Recently, I was working with Susan, a client who was accustomed to relieving stress through shopping and eating.
She recently had a breakdown and resorted to buying herself something or treating herself to something sugary to eat, but realized after all of our work together, that these strategies no longer served her.
She was torn. On the one hand, she was proud that she no longer looked to food or shopping to regulate her mood. At the same time, though, Susan felt out of control because she hadn’t identified alternative ways to deal with her stress.
After a brainstorming session, here are five strategies we came up with that she found helpful for managing stress:
1. Weekend blackouts: Susan turned off her cellphone 5pm on Friday and wouldn’t turn it back on until Monday morning. She said the most important people in her life had her landline number so they could be touch in case of an emergency.
2. Cleaning: When Susan was stressed, she had little or no motivation to clean. The irony is that the messy house made her feel even more stressed. To beautify her environment without overwhelming her, she decided to tackle one room at a time and for a certain amount of time. For example, she set a goal to clean her kitchen for thirty minutes. Once the thirty minutes were done, she would stop and leave the rest of the cleaning for the next day.
3. Pre-planning how she wanted to feel ahead of time. Susan had three jobs, so she was always running. One of the ways that she focused herself was to be intentional about taking time to think positively between transitions. For example, in the morning, before she got out of her car and entered the office, she would say an affirmation of her choice. At the end of lunch hour, she would center herself before she returned to work. Between her first and second and third jobs, she would take a moment. Pressing pause and setting intentions throughout the day helped her feel lighter.
4. Clearing her evening schedule. For some reason, Susan always felt the need to have something to do even after working three jobs every day. But this sense of “busyness” was starting to make her feel like her time was not her own. The irony was that she created this schedule. So, we talked about clearing her schedule, especially the hour right after she came home from work. No calls. No errands. No nothing. Just sitting and regrouping.
5. Going to bed at a set time. Susan is a perfectionist and has a “no excuses” mentality, which often has her taking colleagues’ work home to do to ensure that team deadlines are met. We discussed how destructive this was for her morale and her self-care. We established at bottom-line when it came to her night schedule: lights out at 10pm for Susan.
After implementing these strategies, Susan feels better about her ability to manage her time and by extension, her life and her happiness.
BMWK- What are some other ways that you deal with stress in a healthy way?
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