Updated: Oct 21
Money has been a longstanding stressor for many. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only generated more financial turmoil on a global scale. This can be evidently seen through widespread economic downtown, greater unemployment rates, and increased financial scams.
This constant worry can further translate into stress-related mental and physical health conditions. Therefore, we must understand the impact of financial stress so that we can combat it during these unprecedented times.
The Impact of Financial Stress
The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute* reported 86 percent of people saying that their money concerns worsened their mental health issues. That’s because the stress puts their minds and bodies in a heightened state. If not managed properly, this stress can manifest health issues and disrupt functioning.
Anxiety is a common side effect of financial stress and it appears as both emotional and physical symptoms. People that suffer from severe anxiety may report panic attacks where their chest tightens and they struggle to breathe. This may be coupled with a sense of impending doom that there’s no way out of a terrible situation. Other common signs of anxiety include racing and intrusive thoughts, trembling, nausea, and a rapid heartbeat.
Feeling behind financially can drive us to feel helpless and discouraged. This may eventually escalate into depression which goes beyond sadness and self-doubt. It also often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety which leads to troubles in sleeping and eating, ruminative thoughts, and chronic fatigue. All of which makes it a debilitating condition that makes it hard to focus at work, home, and other life responsibilities.
3) Workplace woes
Financial stress hurts the bottom line too. Especially during an economic crisis, collective financial stress can lead to poorer work performance, impaired relationships with colleagues and higher turnover rates. When this happens employers will suffer increased costs from absenteeism, healthcare, at-work accidents, and more. A Salary Finance report* has even calculated that financial stress can cost organizations about $3,000 per employee per year.
How We Can Manage Financial Stress
Thankfully, financial stress can be managed with a few simple steps. No matter the weight of your current debts and commitments, it’s essential that we look towards the little things we can control and work from there. Here’s how:
1) Address the underlying problem
It can be tempting to sweep our money problems under the rug. However, the consequences of avoidance will creep up to us sooner or later. Hence, we first need to discover the reason behind our financial stress. May it be unemployment, sudden illness, or mortgage loans. Identifying the core problem is the first step to laying out a plan for your financial goals.
2) Seek help
Perhaps you’re struggling to wrap your head around your financial issues. This may be a good time to seek the help of financial advisors. These professionals will help you create a long-term financial strategy that can support your current and future needs. Additionally, credit counseling services can help you restructure your debt and negotiate with creditors. Ultimately, you can gain peace of mind knowing that someone credible is there to keep you accountable.
3) Educate yourself
Whether it’s reading books about money management or taking financial classes, educating yourself is vital in your financial journey. Also, it’s helpful to stay updated on financial news and trends if you’re interested in investing. Your organization may even provide financial wellness programs that aim to lessen employees’ financial stress through workshops on financial management skills.
4) Plan and prioritize
With the existing overwhelm, it may seem like budgeting and planning are going to add to your stress. However, it is truly the most effective tool to curb your financial woes. This plan will help ensure that you cover your immediate expenses while working towards your long-term savings and repayment goals. The first few months may require more prioritizing and cutting back. But committing to your financial milestones will reduce the overall amount of time you spend worrying about money.
All of us will experience money-related stress at least a few times in our lives. Whether it’s caused by something unexpected, or due to insufficient financial knowledge. Regardless, it’s imperative that we focus on what we can control to establish better financial resilience and to build a more stress-free future!
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Reference Link: 1. The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute