Coming up with ways to release that stress might seem as challenging as repayment itself, but consider these five ways to channel your frustrations, if only to maintain your sanity:
1. Put your thoughts on the page
2. Funnel your frustration into a hobby
3. Commiserate with your peers
4. Reach out to your elected representatives
5. Travel the world to clear your mind (and manage your repayment)
We live in an era where you don’t need a friend by your side to start venting. That’s what the internet is for, if nothing else.
Creating a student loan debt blog might seem like the last thing on your mind, but consider the possible benefits. You could calm your student loan anxiety, share your experiences with similarly stressed-out borrowers and potentially make money from your writing.
If you’d rather not share your debt story online, start smaller by putting pen to paper. Journaling can also help you compartmentalize your student loan stressors. And you can always share it with a friend at a later date.
If writing isn’t something you enjoy, ask yourself what you could take on instead. Then consider how you might connect that interest, even indirectly, to your student loan situation. In an ideal world, the negative energy created by your student loans will turn into something positive.
Paul Fentress, for example, felt so overwhelmed by his nearly six-figure student loan debt that he turned his frustrations into artwork. In 2018, he made 120 paintings, one for each of his decade-long schedule of payments. “Pure emotion and frustration immediately transferred onto the canvas,” Fentress told Student Loan Hero of his artistic process.
All the better if your passion turns into a money-making side hustle or new career. Many of our success story borrowers cited a second income as key to ending their education debt.
They say misery loves company, so you might try talking out your student loan woes with a weary fellow borrower.
In addition to finding others to hear you out and offer support, reaching out to like-minded borrowers might help you discover the latest tips and tricks for ending your debt ahead of schedule.
As for where to find such a support group, consider these options:
- Search your preferred social media platform for formal groups, or join an informal conversation.
- Reunite a group of your indebted classmates for a volunteering project that could help reduce your debt.
- Join your local chapter of an organization like Student Loan Justice.
As the presidential election season is drawing student loan proposals into the spotlight, consider joining the discussion.
Although it might be unrealistic to review every piece of pending legislation affecting education debt, there are ways to keep informed and add your voice to the debate. Some options include:
- Contacting your member of Congress to detail your specific problem and outline possible solutions
- Signing a petition to strengthen borrower protections, for example, or supporting student loan forgiveness programs, via a nonprofit like MoveOn.org or StudentDebtCrisis.org
- Subscribing to action alerts from the National Consumer Law Center
If your student loan stress bubbles up when you’re at home, in front of the computer and trying to make sense of your repayment strategy, then maybe it’s time to get up, get out and get moving.
Traveling might take your mind off your debt, but it could also help you manage it. Your salary could go further by moving somewhere with a lower cost of living and working as a digital nomad or teaching English abroad. Matt Holmes, for instance, has lived in the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, where he’s hacked away at his debt while starting an online business.
You could also pause your federal loan repayment by leaving the country. Earning a foreign income and repaying a Direct Loan on an income-driven repayment plan could result in a very stress-free monthly payment of $0. Just prepare for the potential stress of returning to a larger balance once you move back home.
Once you’re de-stressed, continue paying down your debt
For some student loan borrowers, having a singular focus is the key to success. They might attack their debt with seemingly reckless abandon, throwing every available dollar at the problem until it goes away for good.
For others, that’s no way to live. It could lead to stress and all the unwanted side effects, possibly including a loss of sleep and even a decrease in libido.
If you fall into that latter group, don’t feel ashamed for prioritizing your health. Find a useful outlet for student loan anxiety — whether it’s by starting a student loan debt blog, writing to your elected representative or something else entirely.
Once you’re feeling refreshed, take control of your debt with our five-step checklist. After all, the best way to reduce your student loan stress is to reduce your balance.