I can’t keep my mind off the stock market while I’m at the office. Help!

It’s a downward spiral: When you’re worried about your finances, you check the market. Then you feel guilty for doing it at work, which makes you worry about your job, which makes you concerned about your financial cushion. So you check the market – over and over. It’s a vicious cycle – but no one can blame you, seeing how high the standard of living can soar, and how badly salaries can
stagnate.

To halt your descent, you need to retrain your brain. “Most of our money anxiety comes from ruminating about the past and worrying about the future,” says financial psychologist Dr Brad Klontz, coauthor of Wired for Wealth. Try something Klontz calls “exposure” – a face-your-fears tactic. Think of the worst-case financial scenarios and gauge your reactions. Keep moving down the line of what-ifs.

Typically, Klontz says, the worst case isn’t as bad as it seems. Once you’ve settled down, get back to work. Don’t remain idle because that anxiety is always waiting to fill a mental vacuum. If you let it, you’re back to square one.

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