Financial health and physical health are more connected than we may think. Do you worry about money? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Everyday Health United States of Stress survey, financial worry is the number-one cause of stress. And it’s no surprise that stress has a huge impact on our health. It’s a vicious cycle; financial stress creates physical ailments, which in turn increase medical expenses, creating even more money worries. In a report released by Purdue University, individuals with high financial stress are more likely to report poor overall health.
In this article, we’ll explore ways that money worries can affect our physical health. Then, we’ll look at some ways to overcome financial stress.
Sleep is vital to our physical and mental health and plays a huge role in building our immune system, healing from illness or injury, and protecting against various diseases, to name a few. Unfortunately, the “all-consuming” nature of financial stress can cause disrupted sleep, poor sleep quality, or even insomnia. While sleep isn’t always listed in the typical list of what is necessary to survive like food, water, air, or shelter, researchers claim it is just as important as each of those things.
Ongoing financial stress can have long-term physical effects and even cause severe illness. The increased stress levels can lead to health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, muscle tension, and more. Increased financial stress can even influence heart health, causing an increased possibility of heart disease or a heart attack.
UNHEALTHY COPING MECHANISMS
As a result of overwhelming financial stress, an individual may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as heavy drinking, unhealthy eating habits, drugs, or gambling - all having further health ramifications and may even worsen the financial situation.
But enough with the bad news! Here’s the good news - good financial health can have a positive impact on your physical health. So how do we make that happen?
TALK TO SOMEONE
Money problems can be embarrassing and shameful. But instead of hiding your financial situation from others, talk to a loved one or friend that you trust. You will likely find that they are more understanding than you originally thought. They may not be able to fix your problems, but they can be a sounding board for what you are experiencing.
Also consider seeking professional advice. Here at Spero, we offer free personalized financial counseling sessions for our members with our Certified Financial Counselors. We also have joined forces with Greenpath to offer free financial coaching to our members.
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION
Facing the reality of your situation may be hard, but in doing so, you can identify ways to overcome it. Creating a budget is key to tracking your finances. To start, write down all your sources of income. Then, keep track of all your spending - monthly bills, debt payments, and daily expenses. Identify if your spending is more than your income. If so, adjust by cutting down nonessential spending and identifying wants versus needs. Remember, patience is key. Initially, this process will seem tedious, but over-time, it will be worth it!
Studies show that completing small goals increases dopamine levels which in turn make us happier and more motivated to complete larger ones. So, during this budget process, set small goals for yourself. And, don’t forget to reward yourself with the goal is accomplished!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
In tandem with tackling your finances, establish a routine that prioritizes your physical health. Physical activity such as a stroll around the block can improve your energy levels and cognitive function. The same holds true for a consistent sleep routine. In addition, fuel your body with a healthy diet.
Financial stress can make it difficult to believe that financial wellness is achievable, but with access to financial literacy resources, a support system, and financial goals, you can put yourself on the path to thrive financially!