This week we are going to discuss how financial stress affects our health and ways to help lower financial stress. First I want to describe just what stress does to your body. When your brain senses danger (or some type of stressor), it goes into fight or flight mode and sends orders to outposts in the adrenal and pituitary glands to mobilize the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones send reinforcements to different areas of the body to increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and energy for you to either fight or flee (basically how you will handle the “stressor”). If you experience this type of stress everyday your body will feel the consequences.
Some of the most common health problems people with financial stressors experience are depression/anxiety, chronic headaches, loss of sleep, irritability, and digestive problems. If these problems continue long enough, they can lead to other emotional and physical health issues, including heart disease, cancer and even suicide.
It is unfortunate to hear that stress can make matters worse, but with time and deliberate action you can improve your financial situation and hopefully improve your stress. Below are a few ways to do just that!
- Narrow your choices – Having too many choices can actually be a bad thing. It’s easy to allow fear of making a bad choice keep you from making a choice at all. Maybe you’re stressing about a big purchase or you’re having trouble making up your mind about college savings for your kids or your retirement. The key here is you don’t have to make the right choice or the final one. You just simply have to make one!
- Stop rowing in circles – Working together with your significant other will help keep your financial boat afloat. Even when couples are basically on the same page a difference in priorities can set the boat spinning in circles. Couples must learn to communicate and “row” together to move the boat forward.
- Make a budget – Having a written budget gives you confidence in your personal financial strategy, which can help lower your financial stress level. There are plenty of apps out there to help or even a pen and paper work too!
- Get rid of debt – Getting rid of your debt should be your number one priority! Here are some tips for accelerating debt reduction: Consolidate credit card balances onto the lowest interest card possible, pay more than the minimum balance, and if you are paying off more than one card – always pay the maximum amount possible on the card with the highest interest rate.