Self-care is critical to any stressful event or time. Self-care is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. You need to care for yourself on every level to be able to function at your best. So, ensure you are doing things that renew you. Meditation is great for all of them. But in addition to meditation, you may consider adding, daily exercise, journaling or seeing a counselor.
With all that’s going on in our country, our economy, the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. A time of high inflation, a recession, or unemployment, can be particularly stress-inducing. We know chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. What are stress management strategies that people use to become “Stress-Proof? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help reduce or even eliminate financial stress? In this interview series, we are talking to authors, business leaders, and financial experts, who can share their strategies for reducing or eliminating financial stress. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Andrea Belzer.
Andrea Belzer is a business and life coach helping women create a life they love. Andrea has her undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Iowa, her MBA from Creighton University, her coaching certificate from the International Coaching Academy and is a meditation teacher. Using her finance skills paired with life skills she helps others reduce stress and start to enjoy life again. Learn more at AndreaBelzer.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
I grew up in Iowa and from a very young age was interested in investing and business. I bought my first stock in 6th grade! With this early passion, I began gathering experience on the finance side of things.
I have my undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Iowa, and my MBA from Creighton University. I worked in corporate finance, banking, investments, and taxes before I started my own business. In my own business I went on to teach people how to invest, did some fractional CFO work and have helped re-create people’s lives to match who they are today.
But beyond the knowledge side of money, I am passionate about the benefits of having a healthy relationship with money. Even though I have formal training in finance, I still had a complicated emotional relationship to it. So, I decided to change that. I learned meditation, grew my journaling practice, and learned how to address limiting beliefs around money. All this allowed me to change my relationship with money to a positive one. Where my money could truly begin to help me in life, and not just cause stress.
Now when teaching personal finance, I include the emotional component. After all, even if you do everything right with money, if you are stressed about it constantly it isn’t helping your life. Money is supposed to support us, not stress us. And that is what I now love to teach!
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to start working on emotional healing sooner! We all have things that come up in life that change how we interact with everything. Each experience you have creates a new belief, or habit. By working through the painful ones sooner, you can make more progress in life and be happier. And most importantly, don’t let other people tell you how you feel. Your feelings are valid, and if you thought something was stressful. Then it was. We are all different, and only you can know how you feel.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?
I have been blessed that I have had many people supporting me along the way. Especially in finance, not many 6th graders ask to start investing. So, I am very lucky that my stepdad and uncles were there to not only guide me, but to get the process of investing started. My stepdad took me in 6th grade to buy my first stock! I still remember that day very vividly. The office, how big the windows were, where the building was located, walking into the broker’s office. I remember it all! It was definitely a pivotal life direction moment!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
I am working on a money beliefs workbook right now. It can be challenging to uncover what beliefs you have around money, how they came about and then how to fix them. Money beliefs tend to be layered. You may have conflicting beliefs on the same thing, keeping you stuck. Or you may have had a bad experience and are struggling to get over it. This workbook will help people explore all this in a safe space. Allowing them to change their relationship to money.
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?
Stress to me is when something in your life is causing you to have excess anxiety, worry or fear. Making it so you are not calm and feel more panicked and out of control.
In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So, what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?
I think the biggest factor in chronic stress is expectations. As a society we expect more out of people than finding food and staying alive. With added expectations we create stress that is not life protective. Think about all the expectations we have created, from having a nice house, a nice car, your kids get into a great college, and you pay for that great college, and you also need to climb the ladder at work and have great relationships. The list really does go on and on. You can see how all this quickly builds up stress that does not go away.
What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?
When your body is in a state of stress, it can’t calm the nervous system. This releases stress hormones constantly, thus impacting the health of your body. Wreaking havoc on your heart, digestion, really your entire body. I would also like to mention that beyond the physical implications behavioral economists and psychologists are now showing that financial scarcity can impact the brain and our decision making. So, if you are under stress financially, it impacts how you make decisions. Even dropping your IQ, thus impacting how you perform everywhere in life.
Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?
I am a believer that our body reacts with purpose, and typically it is to keep us alive. So, with this stress does have good components. As a non-scientist, to me the biggest benefit is when we are in danger our stress response helps us survive. It helps us flee danger. It can still have negative side effects, but if you are outrunning a lion, it is something you are willing to live with.
Let’s now focus more on the stress of a challenging economic time. This feels intuitive, but it is helpful to spell it out in order to address it. Can you help articulate what causes financial stress?
Financial stress is when any component of managing your money causes you stress. Financial stress is more than just not having enough money. It is individual to each person. You can have a person who has enough money but is stressed because their mindset says they can’t spend anything. So, while they can pay their bills, every time they spend money, they are in a state of panic and stress.
Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 Things You Can Do To Reduce Or Eliminate Financial Stress?” Please share a story or example for each.
- You first need to understand what the real stressor is. You can try different stress reducers, but they only help on the surface if the thing causing stress is not fixed. So, first take some time to write down what stresses you about money. Be as detailed as possible and remember the stressor doesn’t have to be lack of money. You may find that your biggest stress point is in the timing of your paycheck. Or that you are not as far along as you want to be saving for retirement. This will give you a list to work from to begin to remove what is causing the stress.
- From this list pick the one that is the most stressful and create a plan for how to solve it. You may need to ask for help with this if it includes something you don’t know enough about. Or if you have been stuck for a while and have no idea how to solve it. Asking for help is okay! For example, using the timing of the paycheck being stressful, you may decide that if you ask the credit card company to change the due date that it solves everything. So, you plan to call the company and have it changed. This eliminates the real cause of your stress.
- Once you are working on the issue with the two steps above you can turn to managing your daily stress. For this my number one recommendation is to start a meditation practice. Meditation can help you be calmer throughout your day. It gives your mind some relaxation time that allows you to process and release. You don’t have to meditate for hours a day to benefit. Start with 5 minutes of sitting in silence and grow your practice from there.
- Make sure to do things in life you enjoy. I know this can be hard with money and time issues. But there are no cost and low-cost ways to have fun. Create a list of things you consider fun and that help you relax — that don’t cost money. Then when you are stressed instead of drawing a blank about what to do and stressing more about that. You can open your notes file and grab the list. Examples to get your list started: dancing while singing out loud, watching the sunset, playing board games with family, or reading a book from the library.
- Self-care is critical to any stressful event or time. Self-care is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. You need to care for yourself on every level to be able to function at your best. So, ensure you are doing things that renew you. Meditation is great for all of them. But in addition to meditation, you may consider adding, daily exercise, journaling or seeing a counselor.
Can you help address some of the potential obstacles that get in the way of implementing your ideas? What can be done to clear the way and remove those roadblocks?
The biggest obstacle is often the fear of what you might find by looking at your finances. It is much easier to ignore them, so you don’t even know what is going on. Yet this causes more stress. You are stressed about not having enough money, and stressed because you don’t know what the reality of your finances are.
To overcome this fear, I recommend you choose a specific day each week to review your money. If you have a partner, I recommend you do this together. To deal with the fear, put on some calming music. Music is a great way to impact our emotions in the direction we want them to go. Also, I recommend you plan a reward for afterwards, or even for while you are doing it. For example, you get a weekly splurge coffee when you are doing your budget. So, you get to enjoy something while doing something you don’t want to do!
Thank you for that. We are nearly done. Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
My favorite book that I use as a guide for living with the most joy is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. He has created an easy-to-understand guide for how to remove issues from your life. Not always easy in action, but it is hands down the simplest most effective tool to bring more joy to your life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My movement would be around helping people heal emotional pain and mental health. There are many things in our world that need to change for there to be more peace. But change is only possible when people are acting from love and not fear or hurt. For lasting peace, we should focus on changing and loving ourselves. If we love ourselves and have healed from emotional pain and fear. Then we can really begin to change the world. When our personal pain disappears then we do not need to be hateful towards others. This is when we can bring more peace to everyone.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
They can find all my work at my website: Andrea Belzer.com or on my YouTube channel — Personal Finance with Andrea.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.