Coping with debt stress and anxiety

Eight tips for coping with debt stress and anxiety

Along with the financial worries, struggling with debt often leads to depression, anxiety and stress and can cause tension or arguments between you and your loved ones.

Here, we look at how to deal with stress and the emotional and mental troubles that come with being in debt.

1. Accept that your debt is a problem

Before you can tackle your debt and the associated worry and stress, you need to accept that it’s a problem. For many people, debt is something that creeps up on them, building slowly over time.

Your debt may have grown from being small and manageable into something that now feels like it’s totally out of your control, but now you need to accept that your debt is a problem.

2. Talk about your debt

Once you have accepted that your debt is a problem, it’s important that you talk to someone about your worries. By talking about your problem you share the burden of worry and help to reduce feelings of stress. Be open with your partner about your debt, it affects them too – both financially and emotionally.

If you feel comfortable, talk to trusted friends or family about your debt, but don’t worry if you feel like you can’t – it can be a difficult subject to bring up. The most important thing is to ensure you get professional debt advice from a debt counsellor who will hear you out and help you to deal with your situation.

3. Take action and deal with your debt

The sooner you start dealing with your debt, the sooner the problem will be resolved. Your first steps should be:

  • Get in touch with a debt organisation like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or StepChange for free impartial advice.
  • Stop ignoring bills and start speaking to your creditors.

4. Restore your confidence

Taking action also has the benefit of giving you a feeling of achievement, and you’ll soon start to see that your debt is a problem that you can overcome.

So if you’re feeling as though your debt is a huge problem, or something you can’t deal with, remember that taking small steps will help to restore your confidence.

5. Get help coping with your debt

There are many different routes out of debt, and a few charities that can help you decide which option is best for you. We recommend the following organisations:

  • National Debtline
  • StepChange Debt Charity – formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service
  • Citizens Advice Bureau

You can also look at our debt directory for more sources of help.

6. Address the stress your debt causes

If you’ve been suffering with growing debts, you may also have felt some degree of stress, anxiety or even depression. The worries associated with being in debt are very natural and very common.

There are simple steps you can take to help you relax. It’s also important to remember that your debt is a problem that you will overcome, and that if you take action now, in a few years’ time your debt will seem like a distant memory.

So while you deal with your debt, remember to:

  • Eat well. A healthy, balanced diet will help your mind and body function.
  • Exercise. Run around the park, hop on a bike – exercise doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Sleep. A good diet and regular exercise will help you sleep.
  • Keep it all in perspective. Your debt is a problem that you are dealing with.

7. Tackle the psychological aspects of debt

Your debt may be linked to your emotional or psychological needs. For many people, spending money is a way to boost their mood, to reward themselves or to make up for disappointments.

For others, debt and depression become very connected, with debt fuelling depression which in turn fuels a desire to spend. For some, shopping is an addiction, which can be as difficult to stop as drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

If you know that your spending habits are affected by your emotional or psychological state, you may want to seek counselling. Speak to your GP, who may refer you to a counsellor.

8. Find your path away from debt

Debt is a problem that you can solve. By taking the first steps towards tackling your debt, you will begin to feel less stressed and more in control.

As your debt becomes manageable, remember to take care of yourself by eating well and exercising regularly. It may also be necessary to address the emotional or psychological scars of debt – but help is available.