'A friend told me about the 'emotional energy bank' and it's done wonders for my anxiety.'

Living in a nation in which home loans are getting bigger and jobs are becoming sparser, it is no wonder that one in four Australians (and one in three women) have reported experiencing anxiety.

While for many it is a matter of fleeting stress, for others the problem can seem much bigger. When I told a friend that I was having a hard time managing stress, she suggested a technique her therapist had taught her, called the ‘Emotional Energy Bank’.

While my history with budgeting isn’t so great, I found this strategy to be both practical and useful.

The idea, in a nutshell, is that each day you are awarded $500 dollars from your ‘emotional energy bank’.

These dollars are to be distributed according to the emotional demands of each day, whether that be a full day of doing the washing and the dishes (aka adulting), or a full day at work followed by school pick up.

Since you only have $500 emotional energy dollars to spend on any given day, you must be considerate of how you distribute them. To begin with, you are encouraged to spend at least $100 on self-care. This could be going for a run in the morning or maintaining personal hygiene.

The idea is that if you let self-care fall by the wayside, everything else might begin to seem a whole lot more difficult.

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Rule number one = self-care.

The remaining $400 must be distributed amongst the rest of your day’s activities. Let’s say you have organised to meet an old friend from high school, you could allocate $100 into this activity. If the lunch goes exceptionally well, and you leave feeling rejuvenated, you might make a profit to go into savings, however, if your friend spends the entire time whinging and whining, you might end up spending $200 on your friend instead of $100.


If you find you keep overdrawing on your emotional energy, you don’t have anything to put in your emotional savings (which is back-up resilience for a rainy day), and each day you have to start again.

Psychologist Jacqui Manning says that the bank account analogy allows people to use familiar methods, to tackle abstract ideas.

“I think using money and bank accounts, which are very tangible, can really help people make sense of what can be a vague idea, and help to ground people,”

“Their favourite café might have run out of their favourite sandwich, but do they really want to spend $50 from their emotional bank account on having a meltdown? Or do they say okay, I want to save that $50, pop it in my resilience bank, and choose something else.”

Dr. Manning suggests that the bank account technique could allow people to become more aware of where they are spending their emotional energy each day.

“If something isn’t working and you feel like your account is going down to zero or the red pretty quickly, you need to look at it and examine what the recurring factor is.

“Maybe it’s a workmate asking you to go to lunch every day when you really want to go out for a walk or do something for yourself, rather than spending all your energy on them.”

Dr. Manning also suggests that the bank account analogy can be useful for examining personal relationships.

“Relationships often encounter rocky patches when there have been no deposits, only withdrawals. [The bank account analogy] is a nice way for people to pay attention to how they’re treating themselves and others.”

Moral of the story? Get budgeting, and don’t let the haters take your savings.

Do you have a tip that helps you cope with anxiety, or life’s daily stressors? Tell us in a comment below.