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Wealth + Health

Is Your Money Killing You?

Do you find yourself anxiously checking your bank account every few hours? Are you scrambling to make your next house payment or working endless overtime shifts to bring a little more money in? Do you feel exhausted every time someone even mentions a credit card? Financial exhaustion and stress are unfortunately common parts of our everyday experience. Over two thirds of people across the world report feeling daily exhaustion, anxiety, and stress as a direct result of money. Whether you’re fighting off student loans, a mortgage payment, or struggling to put food on the table consistently, money can be an exhausting and even dangerous part of our lives. Why dangerous? You may not know this, but money stress can actually kill you.

Stress of any kind has a dangerous impact on your health. It contributes to daily and chronic health issues that can drain you of all of your energy in just a manner of time, and can even cause fatal health problems. Stress has been linked to increased migraines, heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, back pain, anxiety, depression, and more. Unfortunately, financial-related stress is particularly dangerous because of not just the physical impact of the stress but the implication of it on your daily life. Financial stress can cause you to not seek out health care when you need it, leading to untreated medical issues that lead to far worse health outcomes and higher costs down the road. Financial stress can also cause your mental health to collapse, causing the spike of illnesses like anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression often manifest together, each worsening the other’s severity and causing even more problems for your overall health. The stress of struggling against credit card debt, student loans, medical bills, mortgage or rent payments, and more can become completely overwhelming, to the point where it collapses your body’s immune system and weakens your physical and mental health to a breaking point.

Why does financial stress cause all of these issues? What exactly is the connection between debt and stress? Scientists have uncovered a few different explanations. From the beginning of time, our stress reaction has been designed as a sort of survival mechanism for humanity. When we encountered a threat, our body put out a stress response that saw a heavy dose of adrenaline and cortisol enter our system. The goal of these hormones is to elevate our heart rate, pumping more blood through our system, oxygenating us faster, and giving us more strength and speed as well as quicker thinking. The stress response pushes us into action, and today we know it as a fight or flight response. The fight or flight mechanism was meant to be used only in the most dangerous of situations, but as people flocked to more domesticated and less immediately threatening lives, our exposure to genuinely threatening physical danger lessened, but our fight or flight mechanism didn’t. Our bodies continued to produce a stress reaction, but we weren’t experiencing the same levels of stress- so our bodies have to find another way to redirect that energy.

If your body doesn’t know how to redirect the building stress it experiences, it internalizes it. Symptoms like heartburn, headaches, abdominal pain, cramping, fatigue, and nausea are all external signs of internal stress that’s building up, and in a situation where there’s no immediate release to the financial stress you’re experiencing, those stress symptoms will continue to build and build, exhausting you even further. Your stress can build to the point of keeping you awake, tensing your muscles and breaking them down, and even causing your heart to speed up to the point of causing a heart attack, as well as force you into unhealthy coping mechanisms like over or undereating and substance abuse.

Finances seem to have the unique ability to stress us out to the point of total collapse. What is it about money that causes us to break down so completely? Financial stress can result from a number of different scenarios. The first and most common scenario for financial stress is that you’re facing an immediate money crisis and need to make a payment. When you’re under pressure to meet a deadline, financial stress feels far more immediate and tangible. However, financial stress can also occur even when you’re not desperate for cash. People with lower or more unstable incomes are more likely to work in stressful or demanding jobs because they need the income, even if the environment of the job isn’t worth it. People who are facing money trouble are also less likely to have an external support system to help them deal with the stress their facing, including not having things like a savings account, access to mental health care, or even medical insurance to help support any medical problems that might have arisen as a result of your stress.

Another factor contributing to money stress is that many people do not know how to manage their own finances. Financial discipline is not taught properly to many children, meaning that from a young age people are set up for financial failure. Many people don’t understand loans or credit until they’re making big purchases for the first time, such as applying for student loans or making a car or home purchase. Without a strong foundation of financial awareness, you could easily find yourself falling into a situation where you’re being financially manipulated or digging yourself into a fiscal hole it will take years to crawl out of. The stress of not being fiscally savvy can begin accumulating from childhood, and if you don’t have the tools or strategies to support your financial journey, you’re only creating more opportunities for your health to decline.

Not having the proper financial tools to manage and protect your own finances adds stress into your life that eventually builds until it has nowhere else to go but inward. With appropriate financial help, you can begin to reduce your financial stress and promote better overall financial, physical, and mental health for yourself.

The simple act of writing down your goals and how you intend to achieve them can make you feel better. A financial planner or coach can help you accelerate your financial health, but you can also make improvements doing it on your own. It just takes ACTION!

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