6 Tips to Reduce Debt Anxiety

20 March 2019

A woman sitting at the kitchen table going over debt

If you're deep in debt, it can sometimes feel like you're at the bottom of a dark pit, struggling to even glimpse a ray of hope. If you feel that way, you're not alone. In fact, researchers have found that even thinking about the prospect of financial insecurity can be enough to increase pain.

The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to reduce your feelings of debt-related anxiety and change your outlook to see the brighter side of things. No, there's no miracle cure available, but with some discipline and perseverance, you can climb out of that emotional pit you're in. Here are 6 tips to help you out.

1. Identify Your Pain Points

One of the first steps you can take to reduce financial stress is to clearly identify the source(s) of that stress. If you have multiple debts, you need to answer the following question: which debt is causing you the most anxiety? Perhaps you can write down the 3 sources of financial stress that are putting the most pressure on you. (To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it's best to keep the list small.) Clearly identifying the problem is the first step towards solving it.

2. Have a Realistic Approach

Someone deep in debt can be likened to a marathon runner instead of a sprinter. It is highly unlikely that you'll be able to pay off all of your debt at once; therefore, it is wiser to create a reasonable long-term plan to eliminate your debt, and then stick to it. A realistic outlook will save you a lot of frustration, and keep you balanced.

3. Stop Creating More Debt

It may be tempting to cut up your credit cards out of frustration or freeze your credit. However, in order to climb out of that pit of debt you must first stop the bleeding - in other words, stop creating more debt. Only then will you be able to effectively focus on your current debts.

4. Focus on One Debt at a Time

Instead of simultaneously increasing all of your minimum payments by a small amount, consider the benefits of singling out one particularly burdensome debt and then tackling it before moving on to the rest.

One big advantage to this "divide and conquer" approach is the tangible progress you'll see over time. Instead of slowly trying to pay off all of your debts at once, which may wear out your patience, by making big payments on one target and minimum payments on all the others, you'll be able to see one debt disappear after another.

5. Take Small Steps

Changing spending habits can be a tortuous business. Instead of trying to change a dozen things at once, focus on making one or two small changes to your spending behavior. Once those have been mastered, move on to the next desired change. Doing so will lead to incremental progress without throwing your entire life into disarray.

6. Lean on Your Support System

Experts recommend that you share your goals with friends and family. The support of loved ones can make your task of coming to grips with your debt much easier. Some friends may be able to provide you with practical advice. Even if that's not the case, just knowing that you have a group of supporters cheering you on can make all the difference.

While applying these tips won't solve all of your debt-related problems, it will certainly mitigate the stress and anxiety that you are feeling. As you work towards your goal of becoming debt-free, you'll feel the burden that's been weighing you down slowly grow lighter. That certainly will give you a reason to smile!