Money worries are among the most common sources of personal and family stress that affects health.
“Living with too much of any kind of daily pressure can take an emotional and physical toll,” said Michael Field, a Marshfield Clinic Behavioral Health nurse practitioner . “This contributes to sleepless nights, backaches or headaches or, over time, even life-threatening diseases such as high blood pressure or heart disease. Whether credit card balances are souring or you and your partner are arguing constantly over nickels and dimes, you can relieve financial stress.”
Take a breather
- Focus on what you have, not how much you lack. Make a list. Include all your possessions including material things, your health and relationships.
- Eliminate clutter. Toss what you don’t need and organize the rest. This can tidy up your emotions, too, as well as meditating or sharing your feelings with a nonjudgmental person.
- Take care of yourself physically. Exercise is a great stress reducer. Eat a balanced, healthy diet.
Talk it out
If conflicts with your significant other over money matters are a primary source of stress, talk it over honestly and openly.
“Write down short- and long-term financial goals to learn where the two of you can focus your discussions,” Field said. “Put your relationship first while nurturing each other’s needs. Compromise, if necessary.”
Exercise, positive thoughts and conversations may help in the short term, but if you don’t fix causes of your money worries, stress will bounce right back.
“Take action if money coming in is less than money going out; if you make only minimum payments on credit cards; or you’re relying on plastic for essentials, such as food or rent,” Field said.
To improve financial health, he recommends:
- Setting up a budget. Write down where all the money goes – mortgage and car payments, food, gas, telephone and clothing. Then, see what can be adjusted to live within your means. Create a new spending plan and stick with it.
- Saying “no” to new debt. If this means not eating out, indulging in expensive entertainment or giving up a second car and taking public transportation, so be it. Debt can be very expensive to carry. Once debt’s paid off, put the money in savings.
- Talking to creditors. They may be willing to work with you.
- Getting help, if needed. Be wary, though, of for-profit and non-credentialed counseling organizations especially if they ask for a large advance payment.
“It is possible to get out of debt, though doing so may require new ways of thinking and acting,” Field said. “As soon as you take decisive steps, you should feel the financial stress start to ease.”