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A Plan To Get Your Student Loan Debt Under Control

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Rising student loan debt has become an impediment to an entire generation’s dreams of success through a college education. If you’re mired in debt yourself, it may feel impossible to make any serious headway on the total amount owed without giving up other important expenses and even the smallest personal luxuries.

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Like many Millennials and young people still stuck paying for the promise of “adulthood” and a better life down the road, the burden of student loan debt remains a source of deep concern and stress. If student loans are dragging you down both physically and mentally, it’s time to reevaluate your approach and take decisive actions that will lead to positive, lasting results.

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Student Loans in the 2016 Election

With Millennials having finally overtaken the “Boomers” as America’s largest living generation according to The Pew Research Center, the student loan crisis sits front and center on both the Republican and Democratic parties’ platforms going into the November Presidential election.

Taking a leaf from Bernie Sander’s book, Hillary Clinton has now promised to eliminate 4-year college or university tuition for families earning less than $85,000, among other student loan debt relief tactics. While Donald Trump has stated that he’ll release his position on the student loan crisis by the beginning of September, the official 2016 GOP platform is calling for the Federal Government to stop originating student loans.

Discussing the Debt Crisis

It’s common knowledge today that young Americans are saddled with more debt than previous generations; between an anemic job market, higher housing costs, and rising tuition, it’s difficult to find secure economic footing and grow one’s wealth. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances, college students now face a whopping average of $30,156 in debt upon graduation, and a full 18 percent of graduates report being behind on one or more of their loans.

Why Debt Weighs Heavy

A recent study published in the Social Science & Medicine journal revealed that being in debt harms more than just the financial health of young Americans. Owing large sums also tends to negatively impact one’s physical and mental wellbeing, leading to a range of damaging physiological and psychological symptoms. While the study focused exclusively on families with young children, it seems fair to extend their findings to conclude that debt is stressful for all. Additional research also indicates a correlation between high debt and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. According to several other major research projects, debt-related depression and anxiety can lead to serious medical problems such as:

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  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of strokes and heart attacks
  • Sleeping abnormalities
  • Panic disorders
  • Weight gain, headaches, and digestive problems
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Finding Balance and Making Changes

It hard not to feel overwhelmed when you’re making consistent debt payments every month and seeing little change in your debt load. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. By acknowledging your debt, eliminating negative thoughts about money, and forgiving yourself, you can make positive changes that will help you manage – and reduce — your debt load with less stress. The following are some ways to resist the negative attitudes of others, eliminate poor spending habits, and create a bubble of positivity and support around yourself.

  • Become aware of negative thoughts
  • Make an effort to think and speak positively about your future
  • Reiterate your goals first thing every day
  • Surround yourself with inspiring affirmations
  • Spend time with positive people
  • Break goals into achievable milestones

Related reading The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Creative Student Debt Management

Repaying your student loans and personal debt is a long term process that requires determination and a certain amount of ingenuity. With a creative debt elimination plan you will be able to tackle and reduce your debt more quickly — without resorting to eating ramen noodles or mac-n-cheese at every meal. The following are a few “outside the box” strategies you can employ to conquer your student loans once and for all:

Choose public service. If you enjoy helping others, the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) can help you reduce your Federal Student Loan debt. Additionally, law enforcement, non-profit, military, public school administration, public health, and some government positions may lead to qualification for debt forgiveness.

Ask your employer to foot the bill. Many companies acknowledge the negative impact of their employees’ student debt and may offer benefits packages that include student loan reimbursement.

Don’t forget your deductions. A portion of your student loan payment goes toward interest. Deduct up to $4,000 in interest from your taxes for your qualifying student loans, and up to $2,500 in deductions in qualified higher education expenses through the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Avoid incurring more debt. When you are saddled with debt, it’s not wise to add to it with significant financial obligations such as buying a home, purchasing a vehicle, or getting married.

Use auto-debit payments. By enrolling in an automatic payment program you’ll avoid incurring fees by missing payments, and may be able to reduce your interest rate. For example, Sally Mae offers a .25 percent reduction in loan interest to qualifying applicants.

Negotiate with creditors. If your phone is ringing off the hook with calls from creditors and debt collectors, sitting down for a chat is probably the last thing you want to do. And while buying your own debt is, unfortunately, not possible, you can have a meaningful discussion with your creditor and ask questions that will (hopefully) lead to a payment arrangement, or a settlement agreement, that works better for you given your current financial situation. If possible, try to work out an agreement with creditors before a bill is sent to collection agencies.

By acknowledging your current debt, eliminating negative thoughts about money, and forgiving yourself, you can make positive strides that will help you manage – and reduce — your debt load with less stress. Facing your student loan debt obligation head-on with a positive attitude and a creative approach will can leave you happier, healthier, and debt-free sooner. 

The tools are out there, we simply have to take action as we see changes in our overall society happen and hopefully one day see the removal of a debt based system.

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Consciousness

Why Hugging Is Powerful: Especially When We’re So Isolated

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When’s the last time you had a good hug? Can you even recall a time when one lasted longer than 10 or 15 seconds? Hugging releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone, as well as serotonin and endorphins. These hormones are a big part of what makes us feel good and build a sense of community and connection with others.

When we hug our friends or family, or even spend a good few hours with them, we often don’t know what exactly the mechanism is that makes us feel good, but often times it’s touch, eye contact and reading facial expressions.

Throughout COVID, once we got a sense of what it feels like to not have as much touch, see smiles, see our friends or family, we might have gained a greater awareness of how important this really is. Intense isolation, like we’ve all experienced, leads to touch deprivation, and one could argue, has led to collective traumatization throughout the course of this pandemic.

Humans biologically need touch, it’s built right into our physiology. When we are babies, touch is a crucial part of our ability to regulate our nervous systems and feel safe. When we’re very young, our bodies have not yet built the ability to self-regulate (feel safety and comfort), and thus our caregivers play the important role of not only touching to bring regulation and safety, but also using facial expressions to send the message that ‘all is OK.’

Further, humans thrive in a sense of community and connection. When we are too isolated, without a deep and dedicated practice like monk’s might do in a cave in Tibet, we begin to lose the benefits of co-regulation, and in turn our psychology can begin to suffer over time. Humans have built incredible things – together – when in community, and touch plays an important role in that.

It most cultures around the world, hugging is part of daily life. Other cultures might decide to greet one another with cheek kissing instead, but touch is often a common denominator. But it’s true, there are places that may be ‘less touch-y’ and will certainly find other ways to connect.

One thing I can say though, especially during this unprecedented time of isolation, make it a point to hug those close to you when you can. Make it a good one, 15 or 20 seconds! Pay attention to how you feel after.

As mentioned, hugging is not the only way we get a sense of co-regulation and connection. Looking into one another’s eyes, sensing facial movements and reactions are also important. We have millions of mirror neurons in our brains that are constantly reading what is happening in another person, and sending information to areas of our brain, subconsciously, that tell us how a person might be feeling, for example. When we witness someone taking an action, neurons in our brains respond to that action in the same way as if we were taking that action ourselves – hence ‘mirror neurons.’

This might mean that when we watch a nervous moment in sports for example, although we are not playing, we might take actions like covering our mouths or holding our chest, feeling the nerves the players are likely feeling. As you can imagine, this is not a perfect science. Sometimes we are nervous but the player is cool as a cucumber, but generally, mirror neurons tend to help us connect to what others are feeling or doing, giving us a sense of empathy.

It goes even deeper. Research from Institute of HeartMath has shown that the human heart emits a measurable electromagnetic field that contains information other people can pick up on and decode in their brains. Regardless of how ‘new-agey’ this might sound to some minds, it’s a reality of our physical bodies.

Just think, have you ever walked into a room with multiple people in it and noticed the energy of it? Perhaps you noticed right away it was very tense or very jovial. This sense likely comes from having an awareness of how our electro magnetic field is interacting with the collective field of the room.

What you’re feeling is how someone’s general emotional state is affecting the field they emit. The more we feel tension, anxiety, or depression for example, the more we also put that signal out into our communities. Now, this isn’t a call to get stressed out about how we’re affecting others, this is simply a realization of what’s going on.

In our current chaotic world, it’s quite common to feel anxious or uncertain about what’s happening, and acknowledging that is OK is perfectly fine. The next question becomes: how can I manage my emotional state and create a a felt sense of calm? (Which of course will change the field you emit as well.)

Managing Our Emotions & Energy

One very simple option is written at the top of the article we post here on The Pulse. It’s a simple technique I adapted from my training at HeartMath, but I added in my own flair learned from my trauma specialist training as I felt a greater focus on interception, our awareness of sensations in our body, was important to be in the mix.

As go move through your day, stop, take a breath and release the tension in your body starting from your head all the way down to your feet. Take a few moments on each muscle group if you like. Place attention on your physical heart and breathe slowly into the area for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease.

I wrote a much more in-depth article here, where I share more detailed steps and how this helps improve our overall energy levels as well.

Our bodies are filled with tools that sense anything from obvious to ‘unseen’ signals coming from others and our environment. These tools suggest we are beings of connection, and we thrive when we get enough of it. They also suggest it’s important to pay attention to more than just the material aspect of our world, as there is much that needs to be ‘taken care of’ in the ‘unseen.’ By that, I mean, as we manage our emotions and regulate our nervous system’s, our felt electro magnetic field communicates a different message to others out there.

What message are you sending?

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Aquarius: Rationality & Seriousness

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a Full Moon in Aquarius on July 23rd/24th. It will appear the brightest on the night of the 23rd throughout most of the world and on the night of the 24th in the time zones East of Japan. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Cancer on July 9th/10th.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Aquarius and the Sun in Leo. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Aquarius side and others expressing the Leo side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Full Moon In Aquarius Opposite Sun In Leo

Leo season began 36 hours before the Full Moon and will continue until August 22nd/23rd. This is the sign of self-expression, creativity, love, affection, children, courage, vitality, passion, leadership, generosity, and playfulness. Ruled by the Sun, it is also about shining in our power and being in alignment with what really lights us up and gets us excited.

The negative expressions of Leo can be egotistical, self-absorbed, authoritarian, dramatic, stubborn, jealous, and hot-tempered.  As it is associated with seeking praise and attention, it can be demanding of respect and be boisterous without considering or caring about how others respond to that.

The Full Moon highlights and brings the energies of the opposing sign of Aquarius into this Leo backdrop. This is the sign of friends, networks, social dynamics, social issues, groups, teams, humanity, and being in the best interest of the collective. This energy is unconventional, idealistic, innovative, progressive, scientific, original, inventive, technological, reforming, and even revolutionary.

Negatively, Aquarius can be overly detached, aloof, unemotional, and very invested in the mind at the expense of the heart. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, it can also be unyielding when it comes to the ideas and perspectives that it has already decided on.

Both Leo and Aquarius have some similarities. They are ‘Fixed’ signs and therefore can both be determined yet stubborn. They are also both associated with originality and authenticity. In Aquarius, this comes from its unconventional and innovative attributes while in Leo it comes from being inspired by its heart centred self-expression.

Full Moon Quincunx Venus, Conjunct Saturn, & Square Uranus

This Full Moon is in a quincunx with Venus which has recently entered Virgo. Our feelings, emotions, needs, or domestic lives may be at odds with friendships, values, finances, pleasure, or matters of love. It can be hard to integrate these areas but being flexible and making adjustments can be the solution.

The Full Moon is moving towards Saturn in the same sign. This can reflect a serious energy and we may be faced with limitations, restrictions, delays, or obstacles. We or others may be emotionally distant, pessimistic, or reserved. However, this can be good for some sort of effort that requires discipline, structure, and orderliness. After the Full Moon period, some of these energies will be strong again on August 1st/2nd.

Following the conjunction with Saturn, the Moon forms a square aspect with the disruptive Uranus in Taurus. This is activating the square between Saturn and Uranus that is happening throughout the year which I’ve covered in previous articles. Themes around ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Jupiter Going Back Into Aquarius

Jupiter entered its home sign of Pisces in mid-May for a short stint as it is returning back into Aquarius on July 28th/29th. The planet of expansion, freedom, beliefs, perspective, education, is unrestrained in Pisces and gets to express itself more ideally in this sign. We have seen examples of this as many jurisdictions loosened up covid related restrictions during this period.

With it going back into Aquarius, a traditionally Saturn ruled sign with Saturn currently present there, Jupiter will be more inhibited until late December when it re-enters Pisces again. It’s possible that during this 5 month period may experience more restrictive measures return or new ones implemented. We may also experience this in different ways in our personal lives such as not being able to expand the way we’d like to. However, this might not be noticeable immediately.

The combination of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius (which began last December) can be good for building towards something or planting seeds pertaining to some sort of technological integration, social networking, collective or social pursuits, activism, new scientific approaches to things, and innovation.

Venus Square Lunar Nodes, Mars Opposite Jupiter

Venus will be in a square with the Lunar Nodes which will be strong from July 28th-30th. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to friendships, love, values, or financial matters. We may need to complete something and address what is holding us back  to help us move on and take a step forward in an evolutionary way when it comes to these areas of life. Venus is in Virgo so therefore discernment, details, practicality, health, organization, or efficiency may be key.

At this time Mars will be switching from Leo to Virgo while in an opposition to Jupiter. We may begin to feel the need to apply ourselves in a way that is more productive, sustainable, healthy, and clean. However, we can overextend ourselves and take on more than we can handle. This can also play out as conflicts around beliefs, perspectives, opinions, or judgements.

Mercury’s Superior Conjunction

Mercury will be in its Superior Conjunction on August 1st/2nd which is in an important phase of Mercury’s cycle with the Sun. From this point onward we may have a better perception around certain things that were seeded or occurred in the previous two months which may also help our momentum forward. .

Circumstances and developments that happen at this time can help us gain more clarity or facilitate necessary realizations to help us make the right decisions and appropriate mental focus. During this conjunction, the Sun and Mercury will be opposing Saturn which can play out as hindrances or the need to be pragmatic as part of this process.

Things To Consider

How can you balance or integrate your personal passions with the needs of the collective? How can you resolve any conflicts between leadership and a team or group? Are you experiencing any challenges or conflict between your heart and intellect? What areas of your life do you need to be more orderly, structured, disciplined, or take more seriously? Is there anything that you need to separate from? How can you apply yourself in a more noble way?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 2:37am Universal Time on July 24th, night of the 23rd. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

How To Embrace New Ideas & Envision A Better World

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CE Staff Writer 1 minute read

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

In this video I explore how to look in our minds and bodies for resistance towards new solutions and ideas. If we are to create a more thriving world, what has to happen within us? How do we use new and emerging solutions in a pure form, without applying the old dominance or capitalistic stories to them?

It can, very understandably, be hard to imagine something different than what we’re doing now. Especially when we consider we don’t know HOW things would change or what will happen to the current life we’ve built.

What if real global solutions involve shifting our long term plans? How do we gain a sense of comfort and stability in challenges we seek to solve at their core?

Every time I’ve been faced with some pretty big changes I had to make in my life, if I ever sensed resistance in myself, I had to find it in my body as well as navigate it in my mind.  I explain more in the video below.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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