It’s finally happened, you’re staring at your student loans, your credit card bill, and the third notice for your latest medical payment. When you measure those against what you have in your bank account, it’s clear that one of those isn’t getting paid. Not right now. Not on time.
You can feel the tension setting in. You’re worried about making rent and paying for your kid’s daycare. And that says nothing of the coming holidays. Whether or not you’re in a full blown financial crisis, financial stress can be overwhelming. What’s more, it can have negative long and short term effects on your health. In fact, according to study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 75 – 90 percent of primary care visits are for stress-related issues. Recognize the signs so you can nip financial stress in the bud.
Financial Stress is a Universal Problem
You’re not alone. Americans of all ages and economic classes suffer from financial stress. In 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an Employee Financial Wellness survey, which concluded that 48% of those employees felt stressed about their financial situation.
These aren’t just entry level employees either. This survey included a wide range of jobs and salaries. Also worth mentioning is the fact that all of these people were EMPLOYED. It says nothing of the 9 million unemployed adults in 2014 who, let’s face it, were almost certainly stressed about money too.
Recognize the Signs of Financial Stress
Financial stress is a lot like other forms of psychological stress. It’s all about worrying over things that haven’t happened yet but either will happen or might happen. In short, it’s the kind of stress that stays with you, undermining your daily life and leaving you tense and irritable.
Short-Term Effects of Stress
- Problems remembering things
- Poor concentration
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Slowed metabolism
- Trouble sleeping
Long-Term Effects of Stress
- Hypertension (chronic high blood pressure)
- Increased risk of heart disease or stroke
- Digestive problems or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Unhealthy weight changes
- Skin problems like breakouts and rashes
- Worsening of existing chronic diseases like diabetes or allergies
According to a 2016 study from Payoff, a financial wellness company, financial stress symptoms have been likened to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Of course, people with financial stress will not experience the severity of psychological symptoms that someone suffering from PTSD might. However, like those with PTSD, those suffering from financial stress will exercise avoidance and denial. They’ll also be hyper-vigilant about their financial situation and may even have nightmares.
Stress is Cyclical
Let’s say you’re anxious about too much credit card debt and the thought of paying off debt for the rest of your life keeps you up at night. Losing sleep will lead to continued memory and concentration problems. It will put stress on other aspects of your life, leaving you more stressed than before and causing you to lose even more sleep.
Basically, stress feeds on itself, making it essential that you learn how to reduce stress. In fact, stress management should be your first step, even before you look to debt reduction and try to investigate consumer credit counseling or debt relief programs.
Just close your eyes, breathe deeply, and smile. It’ll all be OK.