01 Aug Financial Stress – Useful Tips for Better Health & Well-Being
You are not alone if you are worried about not having enough money, too much debt, kids’ education, marriage, and household daily expenses. It is a very common worry and the list can go on. Financial stress can affect our health and also our relationship with our loved ones. Besides that, you may have a hard time concentrating at work or completing tasks at home because the financial stress is hanging over your head all the time.
It is very important to seek help and support as soon as possible when you are experiencing financial stress. You might have lost your job or have been retrenched, unemployed, or getting a divorce. Your financial problems might be a result of gambling.
People with financial problems may experience some signs of deteriorating health and relationship including arguing with your close ones, feeling angry or fearful, having mood swings, feeling tired and lethargic all the time, loss of appetite, lower sex drive, and social withdrawals.
Stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including cortisol. Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone”, if not controlled can cause serious health issues. Cortisol fluctuates during the day with the circadian rhythm of the body. Normally, upon rising each morning, cortisol levels are at their highest and gradually decline around 8 – 10 pm. They will stay low during deep sleep and gradually begin to increase again around 4 – 6 am until you wake up. However, high cortisol in the evening is one of the major reasons for insomnia, frequent waking, and night sweats.
Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels may interfere with some health issue such as:
- Learning and memory (cognitive function)
- Immune functions; inhibits the action of white blood cells and usually leads to increased susceptibility to infections
- Bone density; promotes breakdown of muscle, bone, and connective tissue
- Weight gain and obesity; induce body to accumulate adipose tissue especially in abdomimal area
- Blood pressure and heart disease
- Inhibit thyroid hormone activation; causes hypothyroidism where thyroid hormones levels are low. This leads to a poor ability to tolerate cold, causes weight gain, constipation, and depression.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase the risk of anxiety, depression, mental illness, and lowers life expectancy. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands. The problem with cortisol is that our bodies should not be exposed to relatively high amounts for long periods of time.
If you can reduce your worry, you will be able to focus more on your life and relax. There are few things you can do to relieve your financial stress and make it easier to function every day.
- Create a budget
Creating your own budget is the best tool to control and manage your financial status and stop worrying about money. Making a budget allows you to decide on how, where and when you are going to spend your money. Other than that, by making a good financial budget, it may help you find extra money to manage debts/loans. Your budget will give you control over your finances. Start to prioritize your urgent needs like bills, bank loans, household expenses and educational fees rather than less important activities such as long holidays, parties, and social events. A good financial spending plan makes you reach your desired retirement and saving goals.
- Get an emergency fund
An emergency fund is money (your own money) that you have set aside to cover the unexpected expenses and financial emergencies. For instance, service or repair a car can be expensive and stressful, but, if you have an emergency fund which you can tap into to cover the shortage, a lot of the stress will go away.
- Understand your credit report and credit score
Your credit report is important because lenders, insurers, employers, and others may obtain your credit report from credit bureaus to assess how you manage financial responsibilities. Your credit score summarizes your credit history and helps lenders predict how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make payments when they are due. The lender may use credit scores in deciding whether to grant you credit, what terms you are offered or the rate you will pay on a loan. If you would like to find out about your credit score, you may purchase your credit score here.
- Get outside help
Do not be afraid or shy to get outside help if you are struggling with your budgeting and spending issues. You can join a class on basic money management or seek a financial planner. A financial planner can help you create a long-term investing strategy, thus helping you plan for your retirement. If you are feeling overwhelmed by debt, you can also use a credit counselling service to help you. It is important to realize that you do not have to face this problem alone.
- Determine what you can change
If your output (spending) is more than your input (income), you must refer to strategy #1 which is to create a budget. You are the one who manages your own income and your expenditure. Try to omit unnecessary items from your budget and determine what you can change from your budget or monthly summary expenditure.
- Find positive aspects of your life each day
It may sound like it is not a solution to your financial problem, but, it can make a big difference in managing your stress levels. You can do this by tracking your progress towards your financial goals (ie managing to cut down social events from every week to once a month). Besides that, looking at the positive aspects of your life every day also helps reduce stress (make you feel happy and proud of yourself).
- Be honest with your family and colleagues
Sit, tell, and discuss together with your family regarding your current situation and how it might affect the household budgets. Try to identify your friends or your colleagues with whom you can share and talk about your feelings and help you to remain positive.
In order to cope with your daily stress, especially financial stress, practice some healthy habits like quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and mindful meditation which may calm and relax you.This stops the stress wheels from spinning and has been proven to lower cortisol levels; reduce stress levels. Besides that, some herbs, B complex, vitamin C, magnesium, and homoeopathic remedies support the adrenal glands and help restore the circadian rhythm.
All people may experience financial problems at least once in their life time. It is important not to bottle it all up and try to solve it all alone. Some people use drugs or alcohol to try to run away from it and some of them have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Always remember that help is only a call away.