Rising Inflation Has Made People Feel Anxious and Overwhelmed. Here Are Some Ways to Cope

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Many Americans feel anxious about money, especially when inflation is high, interest rates are rising and markets are whiplashing.

More than 40% of U.S. adults said that money concerns have a negative impact on their mental health, according to a recent survey from Bankrate. Of those who said money took a toll, most cited feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed.

"When individuals suffer money challenges or they're working through money issues, there's tremendous potential for stress," said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

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A primary concern for many households now is high inflation, which has hit most major expenses and outpaced wage gains. Here's what financial experts say can help.

How to manage anxiety

When faced with difficult financial environments, it's important to consider what is within your control and what isn't, according to Preston Cherry, a certified financial planner, certified financial therapist and founder of Concurrent Financial Planning in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

"We can't control things like inflation, war, market cycles or economic cycles — those things are going to happen," he said. "Uncertainty is certain."

Knowing that can help people take some of the blame and shame for financial strife off themselves and better process what's happening in the environment, he said.

"That allows thinking about what we can do about it to make it through," he said.

What money adjustments to make

One of the issues people face with inflation currently hitting so many sectors is that it's unavoidable, said Jason Steeno, president at CoreCap Advisors & CoreCap Investments in Southfield, Michigan.

"It's almost a grin-and-bear-it type of situation," he said.

To ensure you aren't consistently overspending, however, now is a good time to check that your monthly budget is sufficient to meet your needs, according to Katie Nixon, executive vice president and chief investment officer for the wealth management business at Northern Trust.

"It's always a healthy thing to do but more so given the inflationary pressures," she said. "You have to make sure that your budget accommodates the fact that your needs have gotten more expensive."

Keeping spending within your budget may mean you have to cut certain extra things such as entertainment, travel or dining out. Many Americans have already made such cuts.

Experts also recommend building up emergency savings, if you can, and paying down debt, especially from high-interest credit cards. Doing this will help better your financial situation for whatever comes next.

Generally, advisors suggest that your emergency fund should have somewhere between three and six months of living expenses.

"You want to have a cash cushion in order to have a guard rail against any large pendulum swings back," Cherry said.

Remember that cycles happen

It's also important for Americans to keep in mind that economic cycles are just that — cyclical. There may be better times ahead.

"Our view is that we have seen at or close to peak inflation, and that's good news," Nixon said. "There's been a lot of damage done, but it may be coming to an end."

She also pointed to recent earnings reports from Walmart and Target, which showed shifting consumer spending and that the big-box retailers are absorbing some of the higher prices of goods instead of passing them on to shoppers.

Still, she suggests that people continue to watch their cash inflows and outflows over the coming months, as prices are likely to remain elevated even as inflation cools off.

"It doesn't mean that we're going back to 2% in the next year or so, but it does mean we're coming off these high levels," Nixon said.

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