You don’t have to be overwhelmed.

Stress spending seems to have become the nation’s favourite pastime. Every advertiser taps in to this by offering a purchase as a way to soothe anxiety, make you feel calm or introduce some more happiness into your life. However, the reality is that stress spending rarely results in anything positive. Instead, it can further increase stress levels by causing problems with debt – it can make you overspend on bad credit loans and other short-term lending like credit cards. It can make you feel guilty and ashamed so just how can you avoid stress spending?

1. Deal with your stress in other ways

Buying something often seems like a quick fix solution when you’re feeling stressed but it’s actually not really a solution at all. If you’re a bone fide stress spender then test out some other responses to this tough emotion. For example, next time you feel stressed go for a run or try some meditation. Engage in distraction by watching a good film or cooking dinner for a friend. There are plenty of different ways to handle stress, from distraction to blowing off steam, and your credit cards don’t always have to be the first port of call.

2. Start prioritising ‘me time’

If you’re stressed then the chances are you’re not finding much time for yourself in the day. ‘Me time’ doesn’t have to be an elaborate exercise in self indulgence it could be something as simple as 30 minutes to exercise or an hour of reading. Although it might seem like it will cut into other ‘essential’ tasks that need to get done, it can actually help you to feel less stressed which will have a positive knock on effect all round.

3. Try to take a step back

Sometimes just taking a step back from whatever is going on can help to avoid stress spending. Is this problem a life or death situation – are there other solutions that you haven’t considered yet? Often, gaining some perspective on whatever is causing you stress can be enough to avoid turning to stress spending to try and make yourself feel better.

4. Hold yourself accountable for your spending

If you feel like there are no consequences to your overspending – or you’re able to ignore those consequences – then you’re much less likely to be able to avoid impulse or stress spending.  You might want to recruit a friend or partner to help you be more accountable, someone who you can check in with in spending terms on a weekly or monthly basis. There are also plenty of finance apps that will make you a more accountable spender, showing you exactly where your money goes and even warning you when you’re spending too much.

5. Stay away from temptation

If you’re browsing the shops with a wallet full of credit cards during a pretty stressful time in your life then the chances are that you’ll make a purchase. However, if your cards are at home or you’re in the park instead then you significantly reduce the opportunity to spend. If you want to avoid stress spending, start by removing your access to it – it might sound simple but it’s an incredibly effective way to get yourself out of bad habits.