It’s Tax Day in the United States today, a time when stress mounts so much that it becomes almost dangerous to be on the highways. Due to a spike in driver stress levels, there are more deaths by car accident, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. An ongoing Gallop survey showed that April 15 was tied as the 2nd most stressful day of the year, behind a day with mass tornadoes.
Fortunately, there is something you can do to better cope with tax-time panic (and, we didn’t mean to further panic you with the highway statistic). According to Stanford psychologist Dr. Megan Jones, who also serves as Chief Science Officer at the self-improvement website Lantern, the solution comes in four steps:
STEP 1: Pivot Your Perspective
Because your chance of feeling daily stress is the same if you make $40K per year versus $160K per year, realize that more money does not make you less stressed — but your attitude about money can.
STEP 2: Look Forward, Not Back
For many couples, conflict arises during tax season because one partner tends to spend more while the other saves more. Rather than looking back at what each of you did in 2014, use tax time to make 2015 financial resolutions, based on saving, spending less or earning more.
STEP 3: Be Proactive
Because money-related stress is often related to a feeling of helplessness, choose a simple action (such as selling an old item on Craigslist), that you can implement immediately to start positively impacting your savings.
STEP 4: Box It Up
To manage different sources of stress, visualize “boxes” where you can put each stressful obligation when you’re not actively engaged with it. Avoid thinking about tax and money issues until you consciously decide to take them out of a mental box, and do something about it.
All of these steps are based on a proven approach utilized at Lantern.com, where users engage in daily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—a type of therapy that examines self-destructive thinking patterns.
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