Meditate your debt away: A mindful approach to money
Money is, without a doubt, one of the key stress points of modern life. Whether it’s mounting debt or trouble securing a loan, the financial world is full of stressors that can wreak havoc on our emotional well- being and mental health.
Though money can be an enabler for us to live our best lives, too many of us are caught in negative cycles when it comes to our approach to finances.
If you’re feeling stuck in a financial storm, it may be time to set aside the spreadsheets and balance books for a moment and take a more mindful approach to your finances.
Mogo’s financial fitness coach Chantel Chapman has been researching the link between personal finances and mental health and believes meditation and other types of self- care may be the key to getting consumers financially fit.
A study out of The Urban Institute has confirmed the link Chapman is pursuing. Researchers there found people who have debt are three times more likely to have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
“Financial problems are typically l i nked to other emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, low selfesteem, compulsion and shame,” Chapman explains. “Having money issues can create stress, but on the flip side stress or depression can create money issues.”
It’s a cycle that’s difficult to break. To truly get in control of your finances, it’s often crucial to not only t ackle money problems head- on but to also address related issues.
As Chapman puts it, “it’s important to look holistically at what’s going on if you want to heal.”
It’s this approach that has led Chapman to also recommend meditation to people struggling with debt and other money problems. While meditation may seem l i ke an unconventional method in this realm, it has long been a useful tool for those dealing with mental health issues such as addiction and depression.
A 2017 study out of Cov- entry University found that mindful activities like yoga and meditation can reverse the effects of stress and anxiety on the body and even change the way our genes are expressed, leading to long-term benefits.
Scientific studies have also shown meditation can thicken the left hippocampus, which is responsible for emotional regulation — a key factor in overspending.
Hiroko Demichelis, the co-founder of Moment Medi- tation, a meditation centre in Vancouver, explains that meditation actually changes the way the brain functions, leading to a bevy of benefits for those who practice it.
Demichelis compares meditation to a compass that can help navigate the often turbulent forces of nature we encounter in our lives. “Mindfulness or other meditation techniques, the best way I have to describe what they can do is finding the eye of the tornado or the centre of the hurricane — the only still place in a very chaotic situation,” she says.
“The more you can cultivate the possibilities of mindfulness to find that calm, silent, still place,” she says, “the more you’ll be able to identify thoughts or beliefs associated with money and create order — a way to manage [your] money.”
Once you’re able to create that sense of order, managing money issues may seem more surmountable. Outside of meditation, Chapman also advocates to bring mindfulness into your day-to-day approach to your finances and to choose financial products that support this approach. For example, Mogo’s Mogo Card offers mobile notifications for each purchase, prompting the shopper to consider each transaction once it has been made and be aware of their remaining balance, which can help curb compulsive spending.
“It makes you stop, look at what you spent and think about how it impacts your bottom line,” Chapman says.
She also suggests consumers consider their own impulses and behaviours when selecting credit products. If compulsive spending is an issue, for example, using products like a credit card that is easily re-advanceable is not an ideal product for someone on the path to debt freedom.
Having an instalment loan that requires you to pay toward the principal in each payment and does not allow you to re- borrow is a better option than a re- advanceable credit product.
“If you don’t trust yourself with spending,” she says, “create a boundary and don’t allow yourself access to credit cards that let you re- borrow again and again. Being debt and money-stress free is the ultimate rewards program.”
On Nov. 24, Mogo will be hosting an event called Mind + Meditation + Money with financial fitness coach Chantel Chapman, meditation teacher Robyn Waley and a cognitive behavioural therapist at the Mogo Lounge on Queen West in Toronto. See Facebook.com/MogoMoney for details on how to get tickets.
Researchers have found people who have debt are three times more likely to have mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.