Do you debate with yourself how badly you need to grab a coffee on your way to work, or hesitate to join in the routine Friday happy hour get-together, because you really don’t have the money to spend on eating out? If your finances are literally keeping you up at night, know that you’re not alone.

But coffee is critical for survival and you need a social life and sleep so what can you do?

First and foremost, remind yourself that there’s no shame in being financially stressed out. Like I just said, you’re not alone! The Financial Post has reported that at least two thirds of Canadians worry the same amount you do about money, which means that if you look around your office, the bus you ride to work, or the people in line with you at the grocery store, two out of every three of those people struggle with their finances too. It’s quite possible some of your friends are also fighting to keep in the black and just haven’t said anything.

Feeling stressed and frustrated about money is understandable, but the most important thing you can do is recognize that there is a real problem and be willing to get uncomfortable in facing it in a way that will yield tangible results. There is no silver bullet, getting out of debt takes hard work, commitment and a plan. Living paycheck to paycheck and hoping one of those weeks something will miraculously change is not a plan. Buying lottery tickets every week isn’t a plan either.

Struggling with money is extremely stressful and the depression and anxiety caused by the weight of increasing debt or too many bills to pay can make it hard to function and participate in daily activities. But stress also has a bigger effect on our entire body. When our body physically reacts to stress, we’re at risk of worsening heart conditions, increasing blood pressure, losing or gaining excessive amounts of weight, and interrupting sleeping patterns.

If we don’t minimize financial (or any other kind of) stress in our life, we’ll eventually start to completely fall apart.

I always feel better when I vent about things that are really getting in my way. So, if you’re feeling stressed about how much money you don’t have in the bank and all the financial responsibilities you have, I highly suggest talking to someone about it. And remember, you don’t have to be embarrassed to admit you’re having money troubles. Chances are that whoever you choose to be honest with will be able to personally relate to your experience or knows someone that can.

Tackling financial woes and making changes to improve your relationship with money can be tricky and tough to start, so it’s key to find people who can support you while you make necessary changes. Having even just one person on your side while you learn how to manage your finances can be comforting.

Your bank or credit union should be able to connect you with a financial advisor. Or, you can reach out to financial therapists, counsellors, or strategists at local Canadian institutions. There may even be support groups online or in your city, where you and others can help one another out of the red. At the very least, find a good resource about financial advice, like the book I Will Teach You to Be Rich and the no nonsense Gail VazOxlade, who offers free, user-friendly resources.

Take a deep breath and talk to someone. From there, take your financial recovery one day at a time, while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Get creative and find cost-effective ways to blow off some steam. Financial stress is a daunting mountain to climb, but it’s not impossible if you’re willing to make a few changes. Just remember to be patient because the results won’t happen overnight. It could take a little while, even years, before you start to see a glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel of debt, even if you’re giving it 200%.

With a better handle on your money and more money in the bank, you will be free to start truly enjoying your life.

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