How Your Financial Health Can Affect Your Mental Health
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by money worries, know that you’re not alone. Especially in these uncertain times, no one is invincible to financial issues.
Many of us from all walks of life have faced circumstances that require life-changing decisions about money. When your financial health takes a toll on your mental health, things can go from bad to worse. The good thing is that there are various ways to get through these tough situations.
In this article, we’ll talk about how you can cope with financial stress and regain control over your finances.
What is financial stress?
When people face financial stress, they face extreme negative emotions due to uncertainties about money. Whether it be from loss of work, unexpected expenses, bankruptcy, escalating debt, or other factors, financial worry is the root cause of financial stress. When financial stress hits, it affects a person emotionally, mentally, and even physically.
It can also affect your relationships with other people and your overall outlook in life. When you’re overwhelmed with financial stress, you can experience feeling of anger, shame, fear, and tension. It can also impact your sleep, appetite, self-esteem, and energy.
What are the effects of financial stress on your physical health?
Financial stress can adversely affect your health in many ways. While it may be easy to say that money is not the most important thing in the world, having constant fear and anxiety about money can impact your mind, health, and overall well-being. In the worst cases, it can pay a heavy price for you.
One of the physical effects of financial stress is insomnia or sleep deprivation. Having difficulty sleeping is one of the most common signs that financial worries have taken a toll on you. When unpaid bills and lack of budget keeps you up at night, you know you have to do something about it. Long-term lack of sleep can negatively impact the body and can weaken the immune system.
Financial stress can also result in unhealthy coping mechanisms. It can lead to overeating which causes sudden weight gain, or lack of appetite which causes sudden weight loss. When you hit rock bottom because of financial worries, it can leave you feeling hopeless and anxious. In a study by the University of Nottingham in the UK, they found out that people who have financial stress are twice more likely to suffer depression.
Because of the anxiety caused by financial worries, symptoms such as panic attacks, sweating, shaking, loss of breath, and abnormal heart rate can occur. When you avoid visiting the doctor for fear of it adding up your expenses, present ailments may worsen and complications may occur.
Other unhealthy coping mechanisms include taking too much alcohol, abusing illegal drugs, attempting self-harm, and even thinking about suicide.
The relationship between financial health and mental health
Many people think that your financial health has nothing to do with your overall well-being. While it is true that money does not define your self-worth, lack of money may also result in a decline in not just your physical, but also your mental health. We need money to buy our needs, make necessary purchases, rent a place, pay our bills, and improve our quality of life. Lack of money may result in us compromising other important aspects of our life.
A number of studies have proven a direct link between poor financial health and poor mental health. A poor mental state means suffering conditions such as depression and anxiety. It will also cause a lack of focus and poor memory. Substance abuse may also alter your healthy mental state and may cause you to commit actions outside your reason.
Unlike other conditions, mental health problems may be more difficult to manage. You may even lose more income by taking time off work due to depression. These problems may spiral and can lead to even more financial and mental problems.
How to deal with financial stress
The good news is that no matter how difficult the situation is, there are many ways to get yourself out of the black hole. Remember that you’re not alone and that many people have gone through the same situation and have got their way out successfully. If they can, you can too. The following are ways on how to face your financial problem head-on:
Talk to a trusted friend
It’s easy to hide your problems to yourself especially when they’re too heavy to share with someone. No matter how tempting it is to bear or your worries to yourself, it’s best to open it up to someone that you can trust. Whether that be a friend, a family member, or a co-worker, having someone to talk to is the first step to easing your burdens.
When you speak face-to-face with someone about your worries, you can let out your emotions and vent out your stress. Moreover, you can put things into perspective. Expressing your problems to someone that you can trust will make your problems less intimidating. That person can even give you words of advice that can help ease your situation. This way, you will also feel less alone about your situation.
If you can, it will also be great to talk to a professional. Talking to a counselor or psychiatrist about your state of mental health will also help you become enlightened about your situation. The professional can sort things out for you so things can get easier to handle. While seeing a professional may entail fees, these types of expenses will end up becoming a good investment since they help you get out of your situation in the best way they know that works.
The good news is, the Department of Health (DOH) has launched its mental health hotline and you can get in touch without spending a peso.
Account your finances
Having financial worries may mean you wouldn’t want to open your bills, check your monthly statements, etc. While these may be a quick resort to avoid feelings of worry, running away from your problems and denying the reality of your situation will only worsen things in the long run. Having a detailed list of your current assets, your income, debt, and expenses over the month and the following months is a great way to start off with your financial planning.
There are applications and websites that allow you to take account of your finances so you can have an overview of your financial status. You can work back your expenses by looking at past receipts as well as bank and credit statements. When you take inventory of your finances, you will know the best course of action to take.
Include every source of income that you have. Take into account your main salary, bonuses, and your sidelines. Conversely, keep track of all your spending. Whether it be your monthly electricity bill or the weekly coffee that you buy- take everything into account. No matter how seemingly small and expense may be, it can pile up over time. Creating a clear budgeting strategy will help you regain control over your finances.
After that, keep track of the list of your debts. Keep track of your bills, fees, and payments that you owe to anyone.
Make a financial plan
Once you make an inventory of your finances, the next step is to make a plan and stick to it. Make a plan to first pay off your debts. How do you increase your source of income? Look for ways so you can efficiently use your time to increase your cash flow. Then first address your debts and make sure you clear them in an efficient manner. Make sure that your income is allocated properly to your expenses, savings, and emergency fund.
The next step is to make small changes to your spending habits. What are your spending patterns? How do you spend unnecessary expenses? Does boredom or stress trigger you to splurge on online shopping? If you are spending on vices such as cigarettes, your expenses can add up significantly. It would be impractical to deny yourself of any kind of enjoyment. However, it’s best to consider things that you have to sacrifice to gain financial control.
Stick to a monthly budget
The best way to stick to your financial plan is to have a monthly budget. Then, you can trim it down to having a daily budget. How much should you spend in a day on food and on transportation?
Once you have set your budget based on your earnings, make it a point to stick to it. It is a good practice to list down your expenses in a day to check if you are sticking with the budget. When you make this a habit, sticking to your monthly budget can be an easier process.
Action is the only solution
Experiencing financial stress can take a toll on your overall well-being. People from all walks of life can experience financial worries at some point in their life. The best way to deal with financial stress is to face the problem head-on, devise a plan, and stick to it.
At the end of the day, only you can save yourself from your financial distress. Take it one day at a time. With persistence and patience, your financial struggles will get solved one by one.