What is the most important currency to reduce anxiety?

July 06th 2023

Being in debt is a common source of high anxiety and stress. But is money the only currency..?


When I ask someone, “What is the most important currency?” The answer is invariably money related.

However, I believe there are two other currencies that are equally important and just as being in debt can cause anxiety, not having enough of these other currencies can leave you feeling stressed and vulnerable too.

1. The currency of time

Time differs from money in two very key ways:

– We all have exactly the same amount of it

– It is a finite resource

And there are a lot of similarities too.   We can trade time – give someone our time and they give us something back – maybe money!  We can ‘save’ time for using it later.  We have to make decisions on what we spend our time on.  And people can take our time, even if it is not on things we wish to spend it on!!

2. Energy

Energy for me is the most interesting.  Energy and time are closely related but a key difference is that we can have more control over what we spend our energy on.  And an investment in doing things that create energy, can show very swift and ‘profitable’ returns.

So what is the relevance of these currencies to anxiety?

Many people have either experienced or can relate to  the feelings associated with a lack of finances or debt:  anxiety, stress, depression…  Often, the higher the debt, the more difficult it is to get out of it and the situation spirals.

A common misconception though is that financial abundance guarantees happiness, joy, gratitude…  I have met many people who are hugely wealthy, but they are not happy!  A common source of anxiety for these people is losing their wealth.

So a lot or a little can both lead to anxiety.  It is about being in control of your finances that leads to confidence, stability.

Now let’s look at time.

Not having enough time can lead to stress and anxiety – as can having too much time!

The fact that time is a limited resource is what can also be termed a limiting factor – something you cannot control.  And whenever you feel out of control, vulnerability and the relating anxiety are standard responses.

And then there’s energy.

Not enough energy depletes your resources which can make you vulnerable leading to anxiety.  Most people can relate to the impact of tiredness on their ability to cope with stress effectively.  And good thing to remember here is that anger is the ‘fight’ element of the fight or flight response – our most basic response to fear.  Hands up all of us who have snapped at someone when tired!!

Lower energy levels make us more vulnerable to the behaviour of others.

So how can we manage these currencies better to reduce anxiety?

The basic principles that many apply to money management relate as appropriately to these other two currencies.

Spend wisely

Most of us don’t have enough pennies to buy anything and everything we want.  So we make decisions.  We prioritise.  We make sure the basics are covered – the roof over our heads, food on the table etc before spending on those non essentials.

The same is true of time and energy.

Spend time and energy wisely, focusing on the things that are necessities to give your time and energy to before giving it to those things that are non essential.  By doing this, you are reducing the risk of not having enough of either currency to do the things that keep you safe – a definite recipe for anxiety!


I was brought up to always save a bit for a ‘rainy day’.  And it will rain at some point!  And then when those storm clouds open, you have something to shelter under.

Likewise for time and energy.  Neither can be stored in quite the same tangible way as money can, but the principle is still relevant – by saving time in one area of life, you can spend it on another.  By saving your energy doing one thing, it is then available to use on something else.

By investing in activities that result in more time and energy, you have more to spend!

Control and anxiety are opposites. The more control you have the less anxious you feel. The less control you have, the more vulnerable you are and anxiety rises.

Key to the reduction of anxiety in the vast majority of cases is about getting back into a position of control

When we are in control of our finances, we are in a better state emotionally

When you are managing your time well, you are less stressed

When your energy availability meets your energy needs, there is balance – you are in control.

...and here is my challenge for you ...

Start treating time and energy as currencies.  Look at how you spend them and identify what decisions are leading to anxious feelings, and which are supporting happiness and confidence

And look at how you are investing your time. Where could you invest less time that would allow you to spend it elsewhere?  Where might there be drains of energy that you could plug so that it can be invested in something that will leave you feeling better?

What do you think you would notice if you did this???

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and professional speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work.

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