Economic insecurity comes in three forms: you don’t think you have enough money currently, you’re afraid that you won’t have enough in the future, or you are in debt. In all cases, a person feels a lack of control, which leads to stress and depression.
Studies have shown that money problems transcend mental health; they can cause actual physical pain. So investing in your mental and physical health means taking control of your finances.
The Debt Cycle
The link between depression and debt is cyclical. When we are feeling low, we are less able to manage our finances and we tend to overspend. On the other hand, when we accumulate debt from overspending, we feel depressed. Debt and depression feed off each other. While spending as therapy might have some short-term effect, the longer lasting results might not be so favorable.
When Feeling Low
Moments of feeling low are going to be a part of life. Having our best self deal with them is one of the ultimate challenges of our yoga practice.
- Habits: Notice if you have certain habits when you’re feeling low. If it’s a counterproductive habit, consciously create a routine to help you destress without the long term negative effects of retail therapy.
- Promotional Emails and Sales: Have a controlled mindset before you open promotional emails.
- Appreciate: Love what you already own by organizing what you have. The Konmari method is a great way to keep track of everything you have. With a clear inventory of your possessions, you might find yourself removing the yoga pants in your shopping cart when you realize that you already have 8 good pairs. Another way is to buy a few but quality pieces. Sticking to our yoga pants scenario, if you really want the black yoga pants, but the yellow one is on sale, wait until you save enough money to buy the color you really want. Instead of buying a few inexpensive yoga pants, buy one high quality pair. You’re more likely to treat the one you really want with care.
- Don’t Compare: resist comparing your life and possessions with other people. Have a mantra ready when you find yourself in this mindset. “The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”
- Pause: Have a list of questions to ask yourself before you spend such as, “Do I have the money for this?”, “Is this worth the time and effort I spent earning the money to pay for this?”, “How will I feel when I get the bill for this purchase?”, “Will this make my life better in any way?”.
- Be Proud: Don’t be unhappy or embarrassed about having a budget. Anyone with financial goals have them. It’s smart to know your finances.
The goal is not to stop buying anything, but to be mindful of what you purchase. Are you purchasing to fill an emotional need? Are you trying to keep up with your friends? Is this an investment opportunity?
Money, well-managed can buy health and happiness. It’s not how much you have, per se, but how you spend it.
Depression is one way to react to debt. The silver lining regarding debt and depression is that you are not in denial of your situation. You know there’s a problem.
The Credit Karma Debt Guide is a useful place to start.