Compensate for job anxiety with activities, not purchases

Though 'Retail therapy' is a tempting way to deal with job and life stress, it's only a temporary solution and can worsen problems long-term. Instead, engage in healthy activities to de-stress, Hamm explains. 

Stelios Varias/Reuters/File
Credit cards are pictured in a wallet in Washington, February 21, 2010. Hamm encourages readers to keep the wallet closed when going through personal and professional problems.

It’s a story repeated in millions of lives across the world.

A person is working at a job that they’re unhappy with for some reason or another. That unhappiness isn’t quite enough to push them to find another job or career path, but it is enough to make them feel quite uncomfortable.

That person goes home. That person doesn’t feel fully happy with life.

That person compensates through “retail therapy.” That person buys things so that enjoying something new will make them feel better and that burst of pleasure will take away the negativity of their job for a while. 

I fell into this trap myself for far too long. It was very easy to deal with job and life stress with retail therapy.

Of course, that’s not a healthy long term strategy. One big difficulty is that “retail therapy” simply adds to the professional problems and, often, the personal problems. By buying stuff, you actually make your financial position worse and make yourself more reliant on your job. The path to quitting or seeking out new work seems more and more narrow.

If you want to be able to switch jobs without stress, you need money in the bank. You need fewer debts – and ideally none at all. You also need a grip on your own behavior.

The nice part is that you can find all of this with just one little change.

When you’re looking to de-stress, don’t open your wallet. Instead, seek out activities – any activities – that take the stress away while keeping your wallet closed.

For some people, exercise does it. Hiking and exploring does it for others. I have a friend who lives for geocaching and is using the same GPS she’s had for many years to do it. Yoga at home does it for others. For me, checking out books from the library and reading them does it.

Try lots of things. If you can find a handful of activities that lower the stress in your life and rotate them enough so that they feel fresh to you, you’ve stopped the chain of needing to open your wallet to de-stress and feel better about your situation.

Once that’s happened, you can channel the money you’re no longer throwing into retail therapy into paying off your debts and building up a savings account.

Once that’s happened, you have the freedom you need to actually walk away from your job and from those situations that are bring you stress in the first place.

It all starts with finding a healthy outlet for your professional stress. If you can find an outlet that doesn’t undermine your financial situation or your professional one, then you’re a giant step ahead of the game.

Good luck!

The post Compensate for Job Anxiety with Activities, not Purchases appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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