“People are disturbed not by things, but by their perception of things” –  Epictetus (Greek Stoic Philosopher)

Stress and anxiety are something we all experience. When I first started couponing, I was very intimidated by the newness of this whole new way of shopping. Would I be successful? Could I pull this off? Was it worth the effort?

Today I can say I’ve been successful, and my life–and finances– are better because of it. But I still experience anxiety and the following feelings while couponing:  Rapid breathing, anticipation of failure, sweaty palms, and a rapid heartbeat when I hear the register beep! Couponing has become my way of life, but I could live without the anxiety part.

When the body experiences stress, it releases stress hormones which can cause repeated surges of increased blood pressure and elevated heart rate, leading to increased risk of heart disease.

Get rid of stress and anxiety in 2013 with the following 10 tips!

Energy

Eat a snack prior to a couponing marathon! It helps maintain energy and promotes clear thinking. Bonus: Shopping with a full stomach prevents impulse buys and poor food choices. Remember to keep fluids handy, too. When I leave a store, I’m usually very thirsty, so I keep a case of water in my car.

Focus

Have a game plan ready before entering the store! Set priorities. Don’t get distracted by other shoppers or what is going on in the store (unless your safety is involved). If the item is out of stock, move on to the next deal and ask for a rain check. Make it a routine so it feels like a habit. I have recently started setting the timer on my iPhone to keep me focused while shopping.

Timing

If possible, arrange shopping trips when it is less likely to be crowded. For example, I do my best couponing as soon as I get off of work at 4:30 p.m. This gives me a 45-minute window of opportunity to score my deals before most people show up after work! Early morning before work is also a great time to shop because the shelves are better stocked, and the cashiers are fresh. Saturday at 7 a.m. is an ideal time to shop at Walmart!

Organization

Have the store policy and coupons for each store ready to use when you walk in the door. If possible, shop at the same stores to get to know the layout. For example, I know exactly where the Magic Coupon Machine is in the CVS I visit. At Walgreens I look for the same cashier every time. She has patience, a great smile, and will help me if I mess up!

Details

Do not rely on memory. Keep notes about deals, save them on your i-Phone, or find another method that works for you. At Rite Aid, know how many +Ups you can get on the deal and how many times you can do the deal (your receipt will keep a tally at the bottom). Make sure when you get to the register at Walgreens you know whether or not you need filler items. Develop a routine of automatically scanning the CVS card at the MCM.

Time out

Count to three. When that cash register beeps and doesn’t accept the coupon, counting to three gives you time to determine a plan of action: Does the coupon match up? Did you pick up the wrong item? Are you going to challenge the cashier or acquiesce? Having a game plan will make you more confident when a crisis occurs. Sometimes I just ask them to remove the item, and I think about what I did wrong later because the line is stacking up behind me, and I’m starting to get anxious.

Refocus

Don’t dwell on the mistakes! We’ve all experienced getting out to the car and realizing we made a mistake. But fixing mistakes is do-able in couponing. If you have an idea of what the total should be and the register is showing a much higher number, chances are that an item did not ring up on sale. Educate yourself regarding return policies.

Pass it on

There is no better feeling than passing on a bargain to someone else. If you have an extra coupon and see someone interested in that same product, share it with them! It will make their day, and you’ll feel better because helping someone else is a natural stress-reliever.

Dress for success

Ladies, those heels are not made for couponing. I keep a pair of flats in the car along with my coupon bag so I can change after work. Avoid extra bulk like a heavy purse or big coat.

Enjoy the moment

All of these tips are aimed at helping you be more efficient and more focused, resulting in reduced anxiety and greater confidence as you shop. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Keep track of how much money you have saved per transaction or per week. Reward yourself with an extra treat! There’s no better feeling of satisfaction that a job well done!

 This is a guest post by Tammy from NC
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