“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
To be sure, stress is a constant for many of us in this fast paced, high tech day and age. Pressure and anxiety are an expected part of many professions, including the practice of law. However, there are few experiences more stressful than filing for bankruptcy. Good bankruptcy attorneys are mindful of this as they navigate their clients through the process. However, debtors must realize, and effectively cope with, the tremendous stress they find themselves under. Ironically, the stress and anxiety commonly associated with creditor harassment or an inability to pay the bills is what leads to filing for bankruptcy. Then this stress is compounded by trustees and 341 meetings. For most, the stress of bankruptcy is well worth it. The journey through bankruptcy court promises an eventual light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s always darkest before the dawn. How can bankruptcy debtors deal with the stress of bankruptcy so that they can maintain their sanity as they pursue a fresh start? Below is a list of five suggestions to effectively deal with the stress of filing for bankruptcy.
It may strike some as a bit strange that exercise would be first on the list. However, it’s really a simple equation: exercise relieves stress. Things always look brighter after a good workout. According to the Mayo Clinic, an exercise routine helps to increase the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Any exercise that gets your heart rate going will do: yoga, squash, tennis, running, basketball etc. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise also can improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress; ever stay up at night wondering how you’ll pay the bills?
2. Prayer/Mediation/Mindful Living
Regardless of religious affiliation, a back to basics spiritual approach can help cope with stress. Take the time to focus on your breath. Ask yourself: of all my problems, what problem am I confronting NOW. Although it can be difficult, try not to immerse yourself in too many scenarios about the future. Deal only with what is on your plate, one day at a time. As Mark Twain famously said: ”I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
3. Full Disclosure
A routine bankruptcy case is stressful enough, believe me, you don’t want to see a “problem” case. For the debtor, bankruptcy is all about their debt. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Court and trustee are more concerned with assets. This post is intended to aid in relieving stress, so I won’t go through the parade of horribles that will ensue if your schedules are filed sans assets. Just follow one rule: tell your bankruptcy attorney about everything you own, you’ll be glad you did.
4. Don’t Go Through it Alone
One very common source of stress for bankruptcy debtors is shame. Many feel that bankruptcy represents failure. This simply isn’t true. Bankruptcy is a legal, ethical and entirely legitimate process which allows for a fresh start. Taking advantage of bankruptcy under the right circumstances is nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary, it’s a sophisticated move, utilized often by multinational corporations and celebrities. Discussing your concerns with a close friend or family member will allow for an outlet to all the pressure that is building inside of you. Let it out! Worrying about what other people think should be last on your menu of concerns during a financial crisis.
5. Develop a Plan of Attack for Life After Bankruptcy
This is a big one. Putting together a plan of attack for your life after bankruptcy will be important, not only to relieve stress, but to thrive in your new debt free life. Identify the circumstances that led to bankruptcy, and if possible, take steps to remedy them. Rebuilding credit will be a key, start by taking a look at the articles in the Related Posts section below. Knowing that you have mapped out the beginnings of a comeback will allow you to sleep better at night.
Lastly, try to remember that, while the bankruptcy process is not easy or fun, it has helped millions of people in this country get out from under impossible debt. Talk to a good bankruptcy attorney, disclose all of your assets, breathe, exercise, plan and you’ll get by……with a little help from your friends. Good luck!