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Budget 2012: Top tips for beating Budget stress

It’s all about writing things down, talking things through, and not allowing your worries to spiral out of control.

Image: keepitsurreal via Creative Commons

AS THE NATION’S stress levels are set to rise in the wake of next week’s Budget announcement, TheJournal.ie spoke to two mental health experts to bring you their top tips for coping with Budget-related anxiety.

Cognitive behaviour therapist Eoin Stephens warns against ‘catastrophising’ the Budget – building something up increasingly and multiplying it in your mind as a chain of interlocking spiralling situations.

Stephens recommends people write down their concerns and talk them through with a friend as the first steps in reducing their stress levels while tackling the problems they are facing.

Senior clinical physiologist Dr Rosario Power also advises people to talk through their fears and recommends choosing someone they trust will provide a level-headed response.

Currently, there is so much discussion about financial matters that it almost invites people to think of the worst case scenario, she said.

“If we all tried to tackle every issue in the Budget, we’d feel overwhelmed. Instead, narrow it all down with the question ‘how does this change impact on me?’”

Tips for tackling stress and anxiety:

  • Take your time to break something down on paper or on a computer. Get it out of your head and onto the paper/screen – it may look bad, but it won’t keep escalating as it could in your mind and you can begin to plan things out practically.
  • You may need to take a break before or during the process; you could take a walk to clear your head and step back from things for a while.
  • Use your paper or the computer to calculate the impact of the Budget on you and your situation.
  • Once you have a clear understanding of your own problems, think through ‘what will happen if I don’t resolve this issue?’ Identify the things that are beyond your control and then break the other items down into manageable pieces.
  • Don’t keep putting off tackling your financial problems – consider whether you have the skills to deal with the problems you are facing or if you need to seek advice from someone like MABS or the Citizens Information Bureau.
  • In trying to work out the things you should prioritise, consider whether an issue is likely to affect you in five years’ time. Work out the things that are really important.
  • When discussion the situation with a friend, don’t allow the conversation to spiral – indulge in a few minutes of a whinge to get something off your chest, but follow it with 15 minutes (for example) of constructive discussion on helping each other find solutions to the problems.
  • Although you have no control over what happens in the Budget, you can adopt stress-coping mechanisms (such as breathing and relaxation techniques) to help you cope with what comes out of the Budget.
  • Those mechanisms can be adopted habitually and not just for one-off stressful events like the Budget. One breathing exercise is the 7-11 technique: breathing in for a count of seven, and out for a count of 11. Done regularly, these things can lower your stress levels and help you cope during times of added tension.
  • Try to take care of the things you can take care of and keep in mind that there are free things that can help you such as going for a walk or chatting with a friend.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) offers free and independent budgeting and financial advice. They can be contacted on 0761 072 000 or see their website for more details.

The Citizens Information site offers a range of information online and their regional contact details are listed on their site.

For further information and advice on mental health issues, see the HSE’s YourMentalHealth.ie site.

The Psychological Society of Ireland has released its 40 tips for Mental Health online which provide simple advice on maintaining your mental health.

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