When you’re working hard to pay off your debts, stress can weigh on you. The day-to-day stress of managing your finances and other responsibilities can have serious health consequences.
Financial uncertainty can impact your health in several ways, including:
- Heart Disease. Stress can increase your blood pressure, your heart rate and the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream
- Sleep Disorders. Insomnia, nightmares and fitful sleep can prevent you from getting the restorative REM sleep we all need to function well
- Diabetes. Stress can affect your likelihood of developing diabetes. Stress can have an impact on your blood sugar, which can affect you in different ways
- Emotional Health. Financial stress can lead to depression and anxiety, which can make it difficult to concentrate, focus or be productive
Here are some helpful tips for reducing your financial stress.
Tip #1: Make a Budget and Stick to It
Living within your means is an important strategy when paying off your debts. A weekly and monthly budget helps you plan and organize your spending, including your bills, debt repayment obligations, groceries and discretionary spending. Once you make a budget, it’s important to track your spending and adjust accordingly.
Tip #2: Forgive Yourself
Everyone makes financial mistakes in their life. Dwelling on those mistakes can have a real negative impact on your health. Forgive yourself for the mistakes that are in the past and give yourself credit for the work you’re doing now to get out from under your debt burden. Mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing, can help greatly in keeping your mind at ease.
Tip #3: Use Available Free Resources
There are many free resources that can help with your financial well-being and alleviate your stress. For example, your employee may offer an employee assistance program. Online guides can provide free downloads and tools to help you build, track and adapt your budget. Your local library will have books available on smart financial management. All of these free resources can help you feel in control of your financial and emotional health.
Tip #4: Take Advantage of Free Activities
Having fun does not need to be expensive. There are plenty of low- and no-cost activities for individuals and families that can help you relax and recharge without breaking the bank. Parks, hikes, bike rides, board games, binge-worthy television shows and hobbies are great ways to relieve stress and save on your spending.
Tip #5: Get Sleep and Exercise
Stress can make you feel worn down and unable or unwilling to do the things you enjoy. Sleep and physical exercise are important ways to combat the stressors in your life. Even a brisk walk daily can help you clear your head and give you some energy. And sleep is important, too. Make sure you turn off smartphones and other devices before you get in bed, avoid caffeine before bedtime and schedule regular times to sleep each evening.
Tip #6: Get Support from Friends, Families and Professionals
When you’re experiencing financial stress, you can be embarrassed and feel shameful. It can be difficult to reach out to family members and friends to share what you’re going through. However, you can trust that the people who truly care for you will be supportive, understanding and compassionate. Shame is a very negative emotion that can contribute to your stress load.
Seeking help from a professional with the experience, knowledge and solutions for your financial situation is an important step. During Stress Awareness Day on Nov. 2, 2022, take steps to be kind to yourself and manage your stress effectively.