How To Manage Financial Anxiety During COVID-19
By Ida Harvey, RCC, CPA, CA
The past few weeks have been an uncertain time for all of us. Much about the virus is unknown. We don’t know when and how this crisis will end. This creates tons of anxiety.
The pandemic also brings a lot of financial uncertainty. Many of us are not sure if we will lose our job if we haven’t already. Business owners, especially small businesses, are uncertain if they will survive the pandemic.
How can you limit your financial anxiety so it doesn’t become debilitating?
KNOW THAT IT’S NATURAL TO FEEL ANXIOUS
When facing uncertainty, and in this case so much global uncertainty, it’s just understandable to feel stressed and anxious. So, don’t beat yourself up for struggling emotionally because feeling anxious in uncertain times is a natural human response. Remember that even people who are extremely well off during this time of financial uncertainty will experience anxiety.
Let’s remember that we are not alone in this. In the coming weeks, thousands, if not millions of Canadians along with countless people around the world will face financial strains. As Canadians, we are privileged that our government is doing its best to support us financially.
LIMIT YOUR MEDIA EXPOSURE
Being constantly flooded with negative information will just increase your level of anxiety.
First, choose a credible media outlet to get your information from and limit the time you spend on it. You don’t need to be watching the news or reading online all day. Limit yourself to one hour of media per day.
By limiting your access to the news, you reduce your anxiety level which in turn could help you focus on things that you have control over.
REDUCE YOUR PANIC SPENDING AND DON’T TAKE UNNECESSARY RISK
The unpredictability of the virus topped with social isolation and messages from social media outlets has led to panic buying. Many in the past few weeks have spent hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars buying groceries they don’t really need.
We could limit our grocery spending by preparing meal plans for two weeks. This reduces trips to grocery stores and by extension possible community spreading. By always preparing meal plans for two-week periods we also avoid overbuy, which also helps groceries have enough stock for everyone.
When you’re in state of anxiety you may find you tend to engage in emotional spending. During this time of financial uncertainty, you may want to reduce your spending on unnecessary things. One way to do that is to create a simple budget and stick to it.
Another way of reducing your spending is to remove spending apps such as Amazon on your phone. Before purchasing an item online consult your budget and take at least two days before purchasing the item to increase your chances of making an objective decision.
In the past few weeks, we have also seen the stock market crash. Some believe that it’s a good time to buy stocks in order to make money, however there’s some factors to take into consideration. Even though it could be a good time to buy stocks it may not be a wise financial move if you need the money you’re investing in the short term. There’s a probability that the value of those stocks will further decrease. Keep in mind that you may also need the money you have invested to pay your day to day expenses if you lose your job. In other words, investing in stocks may be a viable option if you don’t need the money in the near future.
SEEK THE HELP OF A PROFESSIONAL
In this time of uncertainty where we have no control and are in self-isolation, we are all at higher risk of not only experiencing stress and anxiety but also becoming depressed. This pandemic has a significant toll on our mental health.
Seeking the help of a therapist is more accessible than ever – online counselling services are now widely available. Counselling services can help you manage your anxiety and depression while provide you with the necessary tools to navigate this pandemic.
Seek the help of a financial coach or accountant to help you make a budget and guide you with your finances. They can also explain the financial help the government is providing. Also, file your taxes as soon as possible because you might be getting a refund. If you owe money on your taxes the CRA has allowed taxpayer to defer their payments until August 31, 2020.
You can also contact your financial institution and see how they can support you and your business for example by deferring mortgage payments.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
In this time of distress, one of the most beautiful things that I have noticed and experienced is how we have come together as a community to support each other.
In our community, many groups on social media have been created to support each other. Act of kindness are happening all around us. Some that have touched my heart include those volunteering to buy groceries for our vulnerable population as well people who have sewed surgical caps and masks and donated medical supplies to hospitals to support the community.
People have also created groups to support each other’s businesses. Find groups in your community and see how you can support and see how you can receive help if need it.
Ida Harvey, RCC is one of the few people in Canada who holds both designation: Registered Clinical Counsellor and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA). She is fascinated by all the emotions that are involved around money. She helps her clients navigate, understand, and uncover their relationship with money.
Ida Harvey has her private practice in downtown Vancouver and offers online counselling. You can learn more about her practice by visiting her website at www.idaharvey.com
She’s also the co-founder of Harvey Financial Services (www.harveyfinancialservices.com)