You don’t have to live with financial stress if you use these suggestions to relieve it.
Your daily life is full of stressors: Your phone beeps with unwanted text messages, your boss assigns you another impossible task, the airline cancels your flight home for the family reunion this weekend, and you’re late for Zumba class but your gas gauge is on empty. Recognizing and managing stress in your life can help you maintain both your physical and financial health.
Financial Stress and Mental Health
Finances are one of the key topics that cause stress for most people. You may worry daily about your growing credit card debt, employment insecurity, or the struggle to pay for basic necessities. Or you could be subject to occasional financial stress from an unexpected medical bill or a theft or other financial loss.
Financial stress could alter your mood or behavior. You might become uncharacteristically argumentative when the subject of spending comes up, or you could be withdrawn and tired from carrying the burden of money management. Long-term or severe financial stress can cause physical symptoms.
The Physical Impact of Stress
If you are constantly under stress because of financial issues, you might not notice the initial physical signs. You might attribute tiredness and muscle tightness to a new workout routine, or stomach aches and heartburn could be the result of something you ate. Eventually, these symptoms can become chronic and may be joined by:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Increased heart rate
Long-term financial stress can threaten your overall physical and mental health. Healthcare, especially for chronic diseases, can be costly and put an additional strain on your budget.
What Is Financial Stress?
Being in debt can certainly cause financial stress, but other causes may be more subtle. If you notice any of these signs, you may be experiencing financial stress:
- Feeling overwhelmed or anxious about your finances
- Feeling depressed when bills are due
- Obsessing about saving money
- Ignoring your finances completely
- Avoiding conversations about money
- Leaving financial decisions to others
How to Reduce Financial Stress
Financial stress is not just about owing more money than you make. Some people who make a lot of money still experience financial stress. It is more about your relationship with money and what thoughts cause you anxiety, affecting your mental health. Your relationship with money started long before you earned your first paycheck or missed your first mortgage payment.
The good news is you don’t have to win the lottery or inherit a fortune to relieve your financial stress. You can improve your relationship with money by following these suggestions:
- Check your balances frequently. To develop a good relationship with money, you need to know where yours is at all times. Checking the balance of your accounts is a good way to keep in touch with your financial reality. It may seem depressing at first, but over time, knowing how much you have and how much you owe will give you a sense of responsibility and control. Checking your accounts can also help you catch errors before they compound into crises.
- Make one financial decision at a time. Your financial stress is probably a result of several factors compounding over a long period of time. No one decision caused it, and there is no single way to resolve it quickly. Slowing things down is the best way to get yourself on the road to financial well-being. Concentrating on one financial decision at a time will help you consider all the options and make the best possible choice.
- Track your daily spending. This may seem like another way to punish yourself, but instead it will make you more conscientious. It will reveal your spending habits, like whether you spend more on gas and purchases than you save in time by driving across town to buy shampoo on sale or prepared foods for lunch every day. Tracking your spending can show you where you could make changes that can positively impact your overall financial health. Making a conscious decision to make a one-time splurge on a premium coffee will likely feel better than being surprised by your many coffee purchases at the end of the month.
- Figure out your unique money triggers. Do you find it hard to listen to the financial report on your favorite news streaming service? Does your chest feel tight as the waitress brings the dinner check to the table? Maybe you see red when your spouse comes home from the store with multiple shopping bags. If you can identify the specific financial issue that causes you the most anxiety, you can probably address it and relieve some of your tension.
- Eliminate stress spending. Stress can cause different compulsive behaviors. Some people overeat when they are stressed, and some overspend. The key to eliminating stress spending it to identify when you are doing it. After a tough day at work, do you stop at a big box store on the way home? When you can’t sleep at night, do you pass the time shopping on the internet? Whether you make big purchases or lots of little ones, stress spending can lead to buyer’s remorse and only increase financial stress. Make a conscious effort not to spend money when you are feeling stressed.
- Take action. If you are worried about the size of your retirement nest egg, call your financial advisor for reassurance. If restaurant food is breaking your budget, plan to eat at home more often. If your household budget feels out of control, call a family meeting to set new spending parameters. You get the idea.
- Approach financial conversations with hope. Financial stress makes it uncomfortable to discuss money with your parents, spouse, or partner, but these conversations are necessary. Instead of letting a discussion turn into an argument, try taking a different approach. Share your thoughts and concerns about your financial situation with your loved ones who are affected by it, who share your household, or who are in some way financially tied to you. Instead of being defensive, try to listen and accept their ideas and guidance for relieving your financial stress.