Financial stress: How money matters affect health and how to cope with it

Money matters! Financial stress can be real, especially in times when aspirations are increasing faster than income. Know how to cope with it.
Financial stress can affect health
Learn how to deal with financial stress before it breaks you. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Chandni Tugnait Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 17:59 pm IST
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Financial stress is a widespread issue that brings up feelings of anxiety, tension, worry and panic related to one’s finances and money-related situations.

What causes financial stress?

The major causes for such a situation to occur are having an inadequate income compared to the expenses, acquiring a large amount of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, having no savings or insufficient funds for unexpected emergencies, poor financial management skills, unable to afford insurance, and more. These things may lead to living in a general state of anxiety about one’s overall financial security.

The financial stress is generally caused when there is a discrepancy between expenses and income. Economic recessions and crisis can exacerbate these feelings on a broader scale. Major occurrences such as job loss, health emergency, car breakdown or stock market decline also cause an increase in stress.

How money affects mental health
Money may buy you momentary happiness. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Side effects of financial stress on health

Unexpected shocks demonstrate how weak financial resilience is when there are insufficient buffers and safeguards. This can, in turn, have a deep impact on mental and physical health, including causing depression and, in severe cases, leading to suicidal thoughts.

How do finances affect your mental health?

Chronic stress, including financial stress, can lead to mental health issues such as irritability, sadness, or feelings of hopelessness, depression and anxiety. Chronic financial stress can take a severe toll on mental health. It can lead to severe disorders, depression, substance abuse and also increase the risk of suicidal ideation.

How does financial health affect physical health?

Stress can also lead to physical health problems such as frequent headaches, high blood pressure, unexplained aches and pains, changes in appetite, fatigue, heart diseases, hypertension and other stress-related illnesses. The unrelenting stress of financial insecurity taxes the body and impacts hormone levels in ways that initiate depressive symptoms. Feelings of failure, shame and low self-worth are common when you can’t adequately provide for yourself or family.

How can financial problems affect a relationship?

Financial stress can strain relationships, leading to conflicts, breakups, or divorces. Relationship conflicts around money add isolation and tension that reduce critical social support. Without relief, the despair, rumination, and emotional strain of financial stress can spiral into a severe depressive state.

Also read: Don’t keep financial secrets from your partner! Here’s why

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How does financial stress impact work performance?

High levels of stress can affect concentration, focus and productivity, leading to decreased work performance and job loss in extreme cases.

Financial stress side effects
Financial problems can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can financial worries change your behaviour?

Yes, financial stress can cause behavioural changes such as avoidance of financial discussions or denial of the financial problem, changes in spending habits, emotional outbursts and withdrawal from social activities due to financial constraints.

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How to deal with financial distress?

1. Track expenses and create a realistic budget to get your finances in order. Seek debt counselling if needed.

2. Reduce unnecessary costs, but don’t compromise on essentials such as medical care. Seek assistance programs.

3. Find additional income sources and resources through collaborations, investments and freelancing.

4. Communicate with creditors directly to discuss payment plans and options. Avoid ignoring the issues.

5. Practise self-care through healthy habits and support systems to manage stress levels. Don’t isolate yourself.

6. Get professional help from a therapist if financial strain leads to depression or suicidal thoughts. Your life has value.

Also read: Money CAN buy happiness, reveals study

The key to cope with financial stress is to communicate

It helps to voice the struggle – to family, friends, or a professional counsellor. Just acknowledging the overwhelming emotions of financial stress with someone who cares, can provide relief. Human connection is healing.

With planning, resourcefulness and support, financial stress can be managed. Don’t hesitate to get help when needed – you don’t have to go through it alone. No matter how dark or limiting the situation feels now, there are always alternatives available, even if they aren’t obvious yet.

Preserving our mental and emotional health must be a priority. It is important to remember that financial difficulties are common and nothing to be ashamed of. There is help available, and with the right tools and support, it’s possible to manage financial stress effectively.

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About the Author

Dr Chandni Tugnait, MD (Alternative Medicine), Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Business Coach, NLP Expert, Healer, Founder & Director - Gateway of Healing  ...Read More

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