The Mind-Body Connection of Financial Wellness

Imagine that one perfect day where you are organized beyond your own belief: you wake up feeling refreshed because you had time and energy to make a plan the night before, so you weren’t anxious while you slept.  Your breakfast smoothie is already made and ready to go; you have time to go to the gym before work; you are somehow remembering to breathe, to maintain good posture, to practical “facial yoga.”  We think of wellness practices as primarily physical: doing a Whole30 Challenge, for example, or getting in your cardio.  After a holiday season of indulgence, you’re feeling ready to engage in these more disciplined practices again, to start feeling better, have more energy, get back on track.

Your financial wellness needs the same care and attention: after the holiday months of constant spending and occasionally receiving, checking your bank balance can feel like stepping on the scale after a series of particularly decadent holiday parties.  If money worries are at the heart of some of your anxiety, all the yoga in the world won’t help you.  But where to even begin?

Curate Your Environment

 Recently, I heard a novelist speak about his effort toward digital minimalism.  Rather than having 24-hour email access, he has no home Internet and no smart phone, but instead, he carves out a small amount of time each day to visit a coffeeshop, borrow wifi, and check emails.  He creates not only a mental distinction but a physical and environmental one as well when entering this space.  While his separation from the Internet makes sense for a novelist, most of us could not afford the luxury of being disconnected for 23 ½ hours of the day.

Instead of completely disconnecting, curate a digital life that works for you.  Eliminate digital clutter, and find the right app for the right job.  Rather than getting bogged down with budgeting and monitoring tools that will scold you for lifestyle purchases, offer you incomprehensible pie charts, or make suggestions for products you simply don’t need, find a financial tool that will set you up for success.  Take the time to unsubscribe from particular types of push notifications that give you a false sense of urgency and glue you to your phone (but not truly urgent ones, like those that alert you to fraud or overdrawn balances!).  Rearranging your apps can be as satisfying as rearranging furniture, and give you a less automatic, unhelpful checking of your device.

Flex Your Finance Muscle

 Just as you wouldn’t set out on a marathon on January 1st as part of a new health regimen, small, daily habits are the basis of real change in financial wellness.  Muscles atrophy over time without use, and your financial muscle also needs flexing to stay on track. Physical changes are easy to see and keep you motivated, but other changes are more difficult to see, and it can be discouraging to have such little, tangible progress.  You can’t reasonably expect to pay off your credit card debt all at once, but you can absolutely start small, by not making any new charges for at least a week.  Then, keep it going!  Make small, attainable goals that make you feel good when you achieve them and check them off your list. Focus on the emotional difference you feel when you are in control, and you continue to visualize yourself as abundant and free.

Take a Power Stance

If you haven’t seen it by now, Amy Cuddy’s TEDTalk about body language is frequently listed among the highest-viewed of all time, and it’s worth 20 minutes to learn some of the important ways that your mind will follow your body’s lead.  You can apply her concepts to any anxious situation.  If financial issues are easier for you to ignore than confront, give yourself the time to stand up straight, put your shoulders back, breathe deeply, and wait that 120 seconds for your brain to increase testosterone and decrease your stress hormone, cortisol, to give you a confident and powerful boost to tackle the project, whether it’s simply organizing a monthly budget or deciding to implement a plan.

Physical changes are only as solid as their foundation, and you’ll be surprised at how financial wellness contributes to your overall sense of wellbeing, success, and confidence that reflects in other endeavors in your life. If your bank account is feeling hungover after a long holiday season, stay hydrated and get ready to work toward an overall abundance in the New Year.

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