Money Fears – 4 Tips for How to Accept, Release & Feel Better Now!

Psychology Today contributor Joan DiFuria, who writes a column called Affluence Intelligence, states that in 2000 Silicon Valley was birthing 64 millionaires a day. Today? Not many. A decade ago, we were so affluent that a new term “Sudden Wealth Syndrome” was coined. Yet, we also realized that wealth doesn’t necessarily make one happy. But as Woody Allen says, “It’s better than poverty.”

We’re just as obsessed with money these days, but it’s fear and anxiety about not having enough money. We have fear about losing our job, fear about ever finding a job again. Fear about paying the bills, and for some, fear about having enough to eat. And, of course this month, anxiety about Christmas!!

Fear is as much a contagion as the flu. It spreads through the air getting absorbed through the pores of the skin and inhaled into the lungs. Before you know it, the anxiety of those around you has permeated your world. Their worry becomes your worry. Every time the news broadcasts a new financial disturbance in the world, it adds to your sense of pending doom. You may feel disoriented, off-center, unsure of yourself. What can you do?

First, realize that fear is an emotion fueled by our thoughts. It’s not necessarily the truth. We either increase the power fear has over us by focusing on it and following the awful spiral downward or we use strategies to break the cycle and support more neutral or positive thinking.  Rick Hanson, author of The Buddha Brain states that the brain is Velcro for negative thoughts and Teflon for positive. By its very nature, the way we think tends to be negative and critical. So, let’s give ourselves a break and take action to feel better.

Here are 4 Strategies I use and teach to shift to quickly feel better. 1) First, just acknowledge the feeling briefly. “I’m angry, sad, depressed, etc.”  2) Breathe INTO the feeling with an attitude of “Come on in,” for about 90 seconds. Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD, a neuroscientest who rebuilt her brain after a stroke, "says it takes only 90 seconds of feeling the emotion caused by a negative event before the body finishes processing its stress.” 3) Re-focus your thoughts onto more positive events and this is where the old “What are you grateful for comes in.”  List 3 things you’re grateful for. And, this is my favorite: 4) Laugh – for 90 seconds. Come on – In the car or when you get up in the morning. You’ll probably start off feeling like a dork, but try it, you’ll be amazed.  None of these strategies change the situation you’re facing, but they change how you feel and think so you can cope better!!


How to Have Less Holiday Stress & More JOY & Love

The Holidays are here, the Holidays are here!! Running as fast as you can yet? Having fun or exhausted already? We look forward to THE HOLIDAYS (many of us-not all) and yet when they get here, we're too pooped to really enjoy them. As Geneen Roth (Women, Food & God) writes, "Passion, strength, and joy cannot take root in exhausted, burdened, half-dead bodies."

What to do? 1) Take a breath. Better yet, take 10. As you do so, really notice your lungs, your belly and your feet. This brings you into your body. When we're stressed or anxious because our "TO DO" list is overwhelming us, we become more stressed by not paying attention to the needs of our body. Remember, your body is doing all the heavy-lifting of Holiday work. If you give it a little TLC, the dividends will allow you to move through the holidays much more gracefully.

What, do you ask, are the needs of your body? Enough rest - sure go to the parties, but not every night. Take a break one night and sit and wrap packages, or do a little baking, and get to bed at a reasonable time. Notice the energy differnce the next day.

2) Try this Holiday Anxiety Buster. Just before you go to sleep each night name at least 1 thing that went well that day. Come can find one. What usuaully happens is that more positive experiences come to mind. A much better way to go off to dreamland.

3) More Love and appreciation equal less stress because love naturally turns on the body's feel good chemicals like oxytocin (the nurturing hormone), or dopamine. If you give love, you also receive love.  How many hugs can you give to needy people today? Mark Victor Hanson, of the Chicken Soup series, says humans need 12 hugs a day for maintenance. I invite and challenge you to give hugs away, especially if you're feeling depleted.  Wouldn't it be great to see someone at the mall with a sign reading: "Free Hugs?"

The point of all this is, if you stay more aware of what you and your body need and actively do stress busting activities you'll experience less stress and more JOY & Love than if you don't. You deserve it. Happy Holidays from my heart to yours.  



Stop Holiday Overspending Stress

The Holidays can be loads of fun and terrifically stressful. For women, it's all the extra work to do; shopping, wrapping, parties to plan, cooking and family to be around that may trigger old feelings.
To cope with stressful feelings, some women shop more, spend more and eat more. (Yes, women also overeat to cope with stress.)
Do you love to shop and buy? Are the Holidays a great excuse to do so? Notice if you can relate to these questions and please don't beat yourself up if you do.1) Do you overspend or overshop frequently? 2) Overspend though you can't afford to? 3) Do you shop, buy or overspend as the major way to deal with negative feelings like anxiety, anger, lonliness?  Remember this, you're not alone.
According to experts on you may be suffering from Compulsive Buying Disorder*. Though only a small percentage of the population has the actual disorder and I view addictive behaviors on a continuum (imagine a straight  line across the page) with one end of the continuum those that have no compulsive spending or addictive shopping issues and the other end those whose lives are unmanageable. If you're at the extreme end you're experiencing things like relationship problems (because of debt or money behaviors), money problems, or work issues.  You probably also feel a lot of guilt, but don't know how to stop the behavior. For those that fit here, take a breath, and please deal with the problem, because it's not going to go away. There are therapists online, online support groups and therapists in your area. Use google or ask friends.
For those of you in the middle of the continuum that relate to overspending due to stress or the pressures of the holidays here are a couple things you can do.  1)  Look at money available in your checking or savings account. 2) Make a list of who you're going to buy for and use only the budgeted amount. 3) Stick to the list and take it with you when you go shopping. 4) Try to shop early in the day when your energy is good. 5) If you need to, take a friend with you that knows you're trying to stick to a budget. And, remember, changing behavior requires practice.  Happy Holidays and you can email me at to let me know how you do.


*Uncontrolled Spending: A Clinician’s Guide to Compulsive Buying Ronald J. Faber, University of Minnesota 

7 Money Tips to Cut Stress & Stay Sane During Holiday Shopping!

Big surprise - not everyone loves the holidays. The holidays are busy, stressful, expensive and emotionally tense, depending on family dynamics. I enjoy them once I get over my annual resistance, which starts in August when Christmas decorations appear, and releases when I finally give in, usually sometime around Thanksgiving.

If you’d like to the best chance of staying relatively sane during the holidays and NOT going over BUDGET here are 7 Tips to help you do so.

1) The Budget: First figure out how much IN TOTAL you want to spend on the Holidays. Include gifts, food, wrapping paper, party clothing (now we’re talking), hair & beauty products and of course alcohol. The average shopper spent $704 in 2010 and is projected to spend $14.00 less this year – who figures out this stuff?)*

2) Make a list of giftees - what you’re going to buy and the AMOUNT you are going to spend. Take the list with you when you shop – STICK to the list. (I’ve done this for years, primarily because if I didn’t make a list I wouldn’t remember who, what or how much.) Resist impulse buying - refer to the LIST!

3) SAVE the list. In fact, type it into your phone or Ipad, or if you’re technically challenged like me, at least do a word doc and save. Print & take with you. (Make sure you look at it when you’re shopping. – Resist impulse buying. - Hear the theme?)

4) How will you pay? Hopefully, you started saving Jan 1 of 2011 and now have at least $704.00 in your account. If not, how much have you saved – again – what’s your budget? How will you pay for purchases? Credit Card, debit card, cash? What’s the absolute limit you will put on said Credit card?  How will you support yourself to stick to this limit?

5) Shop early. Perhaps not in August, but sometime before Christmas Eve Day. Although I have to say I love to go to the mall that day, and look at all the male shoppers scurrying around. I feel smug because except for the cinnamon rolls I’ll pick up at Cinnabons, I’m usually done. (Wrapping? That’s another matter)

6) If your budget is small this year, don’t feel alone. Consider homemade gifts or a gift of time card. Family members can offer coupons for Special Nights of Sitting, yard mowing, prepared Meals. If you’re artistic (not me) you can create something unique – it’s the thought – remember. Be original.

7) If you can manage to do and stick to numbers 1-6 your stress should stay quite sane this holiday season. The odds are you won’t do this. If that’s true though don’t despair – just do what you do every year, and you’ll make it, as always.  For next year - do start saving Jan 1 – $58.67 a month = $13.55 a week = $704. Just start!!