Man sitting at laptop, wistfully looking out window

Financial De-Stress – Week 2: The Three-Step Method to Peace

In 2021, we sent out this collection of de-stressing exercises to a group of clients over the span of 10 weeks in hopes that they might help alleviate the anxiety of debt as our clients moved through their programs. We received such amazing feedback that we wanted to make sure the rest of our clients had access to these 10 meditation, mindfulness, and awareness exercises as well! We’ll be releasing a new one each Monday morning, so check in at the start of each week for a brand new exercise.


This exercise will teach you a simple technique to turn around those out-of-control negative thoughts that are part of financial stress. This is a three-step process we call A-S-C, which has been proven to be an effective way of using your ideas to take control of your brain.

Step 1: Awareness

Most of us don’t pay much attention to our inner thoughts, the ones that float through our heads. If we don’t take the time to recognize our thoughts, we will never learn how to direct them positively. This is particularly the case with financial stress. Financial stress has a way of establishing a loop in our mind that acts as a highlight reel of our most significant weaknesses. If that loop keeps running, we start to believe it is true. If you want to start putting your mind at ease, you have to stop allowing those negative ideas to run your thinking. Some people go so far as to set a timer every 15-20 minutes to help them remember to process their thinking. When you do that, consider things like this: 

  • Do you see negative patterns in your thoughts?
  • Are your thoughts forming ideas that insult you?
  • Can you imagine things only getting worse?

Step 2: Stop

The best way to start taking control of your thoughts is to give your mind a “Time Out.” Tell yourself to stop! If saying it out loud helps, go ahead. Whatever it takes for you to quit feeling pessimistic about the situation you’re in, do that. Stop and give yourself a few seconds to think about nothing.

Step 3: Control

After your time out, it’s time to control what you think. Make it positive and self-directed. “I got this” is one self-affirming thought that many find helpful. “It’s all good” is another. Find a phrase that best helps you to redirect your mind in a positive direction.

The goal is not to figure everything out or even to try and solve any specific problem. Instead, the point of A-S-C is to practice changing your thoughts, get used to stopping negative thoughts, and introducing a positive mindset. Practice A-S-C as often as you can. If you find that negative thinking keeps coming back, keep practicing A-S-C. Your stress level should decrease.

That simple process will be foundational as we continue to put together your de-stress toolkit.


Join Our Client Sessions


If you’re interested in learning more about ways to stay motivated, cope with stress, and receive other support, contact [email protected] and ask to be invited to our “Join the Conversation” sessions. These private virtual sessions are specially designed as a safe space for clients in the Beyond Finance program. You’ll learn about different topics related to dealing with debt, meet other clients in the program, and participate in a Q & A session where you can ask our financial therapists anything you like.