The United States has the seventh most stressed-out citizens in the world, according to a 2019 Gallup Survey, despite still being considered one of the world’s wealthiest nations. This is even more puzzling when you consider that the citizens of the other countries listed in the top ten (Rwanda, Costa Rica, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Iran, Albania, Tanzania, the Philippines, and Greece) are stressed about things like safety, survival, and basic human rights.
The fact is many Americans are stressed and the number one thing they are stressed about is money. Money is considered an artifact that helps us run our lives and this leads to a cascade of physical and emotional problems, as well as a lower sense of satisfaction.
In today’s materialistic world full of the facade of social media, portraying unmatchable living standards, many attempt to portray a certain lifestyle that they may not actually be living based on their current means. It is thought that spending money to go on vacation, eating out at fancy restaurants, and hanging out with friends helps strengthen better connections with these individuals or may even have others aspiring to live as they believe you are from the image you portray to the world.
But all of this comes with a price, and having a lack of money to keep up with an image can create a fear of being replaced, anger issues, and an unhealthy environment for you to live in or rise children in.
This topic has never been more important than it is today when tens of millions of workers have suddenly lost their jobs. Even before Covid-19, 2019 marked an all-time high in credit card balances ($6,194 per American adult) as well as student loan debt ($32,731 per graduate). The average American family carries a balance of between $7,000 and $10,000 on all their credit cards. Over $1,000 per family goes only to paying the interest each year. And that’s just the average–some people owe much more!
Financial and mental instability are common issues that tend to make each other worse, leading to a downward spiral that just gets worse over time. Children who are raised in such an environment face developmental issues due to the financial crisis happening around them and tend to repeat this cycle of stress about money and face mental health issues later in their lives as well.
These trans-generational effects of financial issues associated with mental health problems are inherited from generation to generation until someone discovers the root of the issue and decides to break this cycle.
Financial planning is the best way to combat financial stress, but many Americans prefer to ignore the problem which ultimately only makes matters worse. Research by Capital One and The Decision Lab found that the more stressed Americans are, the less likely they are to make smart decisions when it comes to spending and saving.
Less than a third of Americans currently have a financial plan in writing, according to research by Charles Schwab. More than 40% of them say it’s because they don’t think they have enough money to merit a formal plan, close to 20% say it’s too complicated, and almost 15% say they don’t have enough time to create one.
How Financial Stress Impacts Health
Financial stress is significantly impacting the lives of Americans. A report by Thriving Wallet, a new partnership between Thrive Global and Discover, found:
90% of Americans say that money has an impact on their stress level.
65% feel like their financial difficulties are piling up so much they can’t overcome them.
40% wish they could have a ‘fresh’ financial start.
40% say managing their money on a daily basis limits the extent to which they can enjoy their day-to-day life.
25% make purchases they later regret when experiencing significant stress.
Financial stress can lead to poor physical health. Ongoing stress about money has been linked to migraines, heart disease, diabetes, sleep problems, and more. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to life-threatening illnesses, which can plunge you even further into debt with medical bills being added to the pile.
The same report mentioned above by Thriving Wallet asked Americans to report negative finance-related impacts on health and found that financial stress effects:
Physical Health (21%)
Blood Pressure (17%)
Respiratory Symptoms (15%)
Somatic Issues (20%)
Rates of Tension (25%)
Nearly 35% of Americans report losing sleep to financial stress, and almost 25% of them experience symptoms such as insomnia, broken sleep, fatigue on waking, nightmares, and night terrors.
Financial Stress And Its Effects On Personal Relationships
In addition to affecting your health, financial stress spills into our personal lives in many ways, affecting the quality of our close relationships. When it comes to stress in relationships, money often plays a pretty significant role. Money problems are stressful in and of themselves but combine that with the fact that so few people are willing to have open, frank conversations about finances, and things can get really ugly.
When people are stressed, they become more withdrawn and distracted and less affectionate. They also have less time for leisure activities, which leads to alienation between partners.
“Couples with extreme financial stress tend to have lower levels of satisfaction in their relationships,” TheNest.com summarizes. “Emotionally strained by their financial struggle, some people become more hostile, irritable or uncommunicative toward their spouse.
Many couples even point fingers at one another for their financial downfall.” As a result, a significantly large number of women make the decision to stay in relationships that are unhealthy and even border on dysfunctional, all due to the fear of not being financially stable on her own. Covid-19 pandemic has been able to disrupt even some of the best financial plans and it may come as no surprise that according to divorce attorneys once this pandemic subsides there’s an anticipated increase in the number of divorces that will take place.
Some of the stress people are currently experiencing is unavoidable since millions of workers and business owners could not have known their income would be so abruptly and significantly impacted. Nevertheless, the question now is: How do you reduce your financial stress and improve your mental health?
How to Reduce Your Financial Stress & Improve Your Mental Health
Worrying about money will make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle. Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder. Sorting things out might feel like an overwhelming task.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your mental health—which ultimately improves your psychological well-being. These steps include taking care of your body with adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition, socializing with supportive people, and engaging in leisure activities even when you don’t feel like it.
Learning to cope with financial stress and effectively manage your financial situation can help you feel more in control of your life, reduce your stress, and build a more secure future. Try some of the following tips to get started:
• Understand the debt cycle. Understanding your finances and knowing where you stand with your debt is the first step to getting yourself out of it. Once you know how to break out of the cycle, you can start building toward your future in a more positive way with simple habits that are easy to maintain.
• If you're feeling stressed about finances, you likely already feel you need more money in your budget. But knowing how to increase your financial holdings without creating significant stress for yourself can be tricky, too. Thankfully, there are several ways to boost your income and relieve your stress like becoming an affiliate marketer, starting a podcast, writing a blog, etc. Start brainstorming new ways that you’d like to make money and research what options are available to you based on your current situation.
• Declutter your budget. Since life is rarely constant, regular budget check-ups are essential to improving your financial health. Take control of your finances by setting aside some time to schedule, organize, and declutter all of the money coming in and out of your bank account. The more control you have, the less stress you will feel.
• Don't forget general stress management. As you work on improving your financial situation, you can commit to figuring out different ways to reduce stress by practicing stress-reducing techniques. It has been reported that eating whole, real foods restores balance and reduces the effects of stress on your body. Replacing harmful substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars with clean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats helps regulate your hormone levels, including stress hormones. The gut and brain are constantly sending signals to each other, so by keeping your microbiota (the bacteria in your gut) healthy, your brain feels less stressed. You can also relieve stress before bed by disconnecting from technology as much as possible and at least one hour before bedtime.
• Last but not the least, looking at all the positive aspects that you currently have in your life, by appreciating the smallest things that you have, will help in alleviating your stress levels, giving you more peace of mind to fully enjoy your life. The truth is money is nothing more than an illusion and it is only valuable as long as it is perceived to be valuable. So if you think of money as an idea and not as a tangible asset, you will see that it takes nothing but an idea to obtain more money.
My goal is to spend as much time offline as humanly possible. I have two little guys that demand my attention outside of work and am aware that you have little ones that are just as demanding as mine are. If we're not connected on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter, be sure to find me there. I'm always down to connect and answer any questions, feel free to reach out to me and my team at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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Hi! I'm Asha.
Born and raised in South Carolina, I’m a country girl who’s passionate about making a difference in the world. I’m an obsessive learner who spends time reading, creating, and selling online educational programs for mothers.