Financial Stress: How to Cope

 Financial Stress: How to Cope

In a world where money plays a big role in our daily lives, it's no surprise that many of us are dealing with the challenges of financial uncertainty. The lack of money, in particular, is a major worry for most American adults. The American Psychological Association (APA) tells us that a whopping 72% of adults feel stressed about their finances. This stress can come from various sources, like worrying about paying rent each month or feeling overwhelmed by debt. It's crucial to know that financial stress doesn't just affect our bank accounts – it takes a toll on our overall well-being, impacting both our physical and mental health.

In this guide, we'll dig into the details of financial stress. We'll look at how common it is, how it affects our health, and, most importantly, how to deal with it effectively. Remember, you're not alone in your financial concerns. By understanding what causes financial stress and learning how to handle it, you can take proactive steps to regain control of your life and finances. So, let's start this journey to grasp the ins and outs of financial stress and find the tools and knowledge to navigate this challenging part of modern life.{1}

Understanding Financial Stress

Financial stress is when money causes you to feel anxious and uptight. It can affect anyone but is more frequent in households with lower income. This stress occurs when there isn't sufficient money to cover essential expenses like rent, bills, and food.

People with lower incomes often face extra stress because of their jobs.{2} They might not be able to take time off when they need it, work in unsafe places, and feel stuck in their jobs because they're scared they won't find a better one that pays enough. In this guide, we'll learn how to reduce financial stress and get back on track with your money.

Many of us worry about money now and then, but when that worry starts taking over your daily life, it's a problem. It can make it hard to enjoy anything else because money stress is always on your mind.

If your money stress is really bad, it can affect your mental and even physical health. It might make you anxious, sad, or change how you behave, like avoiding social activities. You might even get stomach aches or headaches.

If you're feeling the effects of money stress, it's important to talk to a doctor or healthcare pro. They can help you feel better.

Impact on Your Health

While stress in general can impact your health, financial stress, in particular, can be especially harmful. It has the potential to lead to various negative outcomes, including:

Delayed health care:

When you're stressed about money and your budget is tight, you may try to save money by cutting back on important things like healthcare. In a study by Gallup, it was found that 29% of American adults in 2018 didn't get medical care when they needed it because they were worried about the cost. It might seem like a way to spend less, but it can actually make your health worse and end up costing you more in the long run {3}. This, in turn, can make your stress even worse. We'll explore this tough cycle more in this guide.

Poor mental health:

Your money and your mental well-being are often connected in a loop. When your money is a source of stress, it can lead to problems with your mental health, which can, in turn, make your financial situation even tougher. This cycle can keep repeating, affecting both your money and your mood. Studies have consistently shown that people in debt are more likely to have mental health issues like feeling really sad (depression) and being too worried (anxiety) compared to those without debt. We'll look closer at how money and mental health are linked in this guide.{4}

Poor physical health:

Worrying about money all the time can harm your body. It's been linked to problems like headaches, stomachaches, heart issues, diabetes, and trouble sleeping. When you're always stressed, your body can't heal properly, and you can get sick more easily, like catching colds. If you already have a long-lasting health problem, the stress can make it worse and cause more health issues. In this guide, we'll talk about how to lower money stress and keep your body healthier.{5}

Unhealthy coping behaviors:

Money worries can make people do unhealthy things to cope. Some may eat too much or turn to alcohol and drugs. In a survey from the American Psychological Association in 2014, 33% of Americans said they ate unhealthy foods or overrated when they were stressed about money. These behaviors can hurt your body and mind. But in this guide, we'll show you better ways to handle money stress and avoid these harmful coping habits.{6}

Tips for Coping

If you want to feel more in charge of your life, lower your stress, and work toward a secure future, handling financial stress and managing your money better is key. Here are some simple tips to get you started on the path to financial well-being.

Create extra sources of income- 

When financial stress weighs on your mind, it's natural to wish for more money in your budget. However, finding ways to increase your income without adding more stress can be a challenge. The good news is that there are several ways to create additional sources of income that can ease your financial worries. In this guide, we'll explore practical strategies to help you do just that.

Declutter your budget- 

Life is always changing, so it's smart to check your budget regularly. By setting aside some time to organize and simplify your money, you can feel more in control. The more you tidy up your budget, the less stress you'll have. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make your budget simpler for a more stress-free financial life.

Don't forget general stress management-

As you work towards enhancing your financial situation, it's crucial to address stress too. Small changes in your daily life can have a significant impact. Eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in physical activity have all been shown to reduce stress levels.{7} Additionally, practicing mindfulness through techniques like deep breathing and yoga can help alleviate anxiety. {8}In this guide, we'll walk you through these general stress management strategies, which complement your journey towards financial well-being.

Understand the debt cycle-

To escape the trap of debt, the first step is to understand it. Research, as shown in a Harvard Business Review study, suggests that a smart way to pay off debt faster is to focus on one account at a time, starting with the smallest debts.{9} Also, keep an eye on interest rates. It's best to begin by paying off the debt with the highest interest rate to avoid piling up more costs over time. In this guide, we'll help you make sense of the debt cycle and give you practical steps to break free from it and move towards a debt-free future.

Overcoming Financial Stress

You might not solve money problems right away, but you can begin planning for a brighter future today. Remember, the stress you're feeling isn't solely due to your finances. By taking care of yourself, you can alleviate some of that anxiety. In this guide, we'll share straightforward steps to tackle financial stress and put your well-being first, so you can look ahead to a more secure and less stressful future.

Take Stock of Your Finances

List the money problems that bother you the most. Take small steps to deal with each issue one at a time, so you don't feel stressed.{10}

Note down actions you can start today or this week to improve your financial stability. Try making a budget and limit your spending to necessities for a week or a month.

Consider getting help from financial experts. For example, look into student loan forgiveness and income-based repayment programs to make your debt payments more manageable.

If you're struggling to pay your bills, reach out to your bank, utility company, or credit card company. They often can arrange a payment plan that suits your situation.

Reach Out for Support

Don't be afraid to ask your family and friends for help in reducing your stress. You might also think about joining a support group for people facing financial stress, where you'll discover support and a sense of togetherness. Keep in mind, you're not on your own in this. Establishing a network of reliable friends and family can help keep your outlook positive about your financial situation.

In more challenging situations, you might even decide to seek help from a mental health professional. All these support options are valuable.

Engage in Self-Care

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for handling stress. Aim to engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily in a way that brings you joy, benefiting both your mental and physical well-being. Walking is an excellent option and can be effective in reducing stress.

Remember to set aside time for relaxation. Despite the overwhelming nature of financial stress, keep in mind that there are resources available to assist with both your stress and your finances. Take a pause to unwind, practice meditation, engage in enjoyable activities, and connect with others.


New research from 2018 shows that when people in the U.S. worry about money, it can make them feel really stressed. This connection between money stress and feeling upset in your mind can be different depending on things like if you're married, have a job, how much money you make, and if you own your home. This research tells us that it's important to have special health and money programs, especially for people who have a harder time. People who work with money, like financial advisors, can also help their clients manage their money and feel less stressed about it. If someone is really stressed, they should talk to a mental health expert. Health experts should also watch out for people who are feeling stressed about money and help them. By dealing with how money stress and mental health are connected, we can all work toward a happier and more secure future.

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