Mindfulness & Money
Why is mindfulness important?
One main reason is because we cannot change what we are not aware of.
Often we become distracted by our own thoughts, typically thoughts about something that has already occurred or in anticipation of something that can occur. Our minds either ruminate on past experiences (such as failures, arguments, or loses) or focus on the future of things we think might happen (actual or perceived outcomes). These thoughts can cause a lot of anxiety, depression, and anger.
Mindfulness allows us to focus on the now, how we are currently feeling, what we are doing and what is on our present mind. There is a lot of research on the cognitive benefits of mindfulness meditation including less stress and psychological distress, more focus, and better well-being including an increase in immune functioning.
Why is it important to be mindful when managing money?
Most people feel anxious, shame and guilt when handling their finances. Chances are if you are experiencing emotional distress, you won't make the best decisions when managing money. When our mind perceives something negative, it activates the sympathetic nervous system and prepares our body to either fight or run away (also called the fight or flight response). If we are constantly worried, our bodies are on heightened mode and thus not able to relax. Over time, this can cause a lot of health issues, but in the moment it can impact the decisions we make.
Mindfulness allows us to focus on the present moment and ground ourselves to the physical space around us. Unless you are experiencing a threatening situation, this should allow your mind to clear and your body to start to calm as you realize you are safe. A clear and relaxed state of mind will allow you to make the best conscious decisions. By being financially mindful, you can better understand the subconscious influences of your relationship with money and be less influenced to make impulsive decisions. Also, with regular practice, the cognitive benefits of mindful meditation may decrease certain negative emotions that drive people to make impulsive decisions and overspend.
How can you become more mindful?
Mindful meditation is one way to increase mindfulness. You can practice this form of meditation anywhere or at any time. You may want to practice it early in the morning as you set the intention to start your day calmly, or at night before going to sleep. One of our favorite meditation apps is Insight Timer because you can see how many people are meditating in that moment and there are thousands of guided meditations to choose from.
When you are first practicing meditation, it can be very challenging to keep your mind from wandering and you may feel more anxious. The goal isn't to not think at all, our thoughts constantly pop in and out, just be aware of your thoughts as they wander in and, without judgment, let them go.
Guided meditations are the best way to start because, initially, it is easier to focus on a voice than sitting and focusing on breathing. Eventually, you will be able to meditate alone in silence and might enjoy doing so outdoors such as in your yard, a park, or the beach. You don't have to meditate for long to see the benefits, start with 5 minutes and increase over time. Even just 10 minutes per day will make a difference.
Dare to deserve. Know your own worth. Money doesn't limit you. Only your mind controls your bottom line.