The Impact of Financial Stress on Mental Health and 5 Ways to Alleviate It
Financial stress manifests in various ways. Adding this stress to that which women in the process of separating and divorcing their partner already feel, equates to a significant amount of emotions that they have to deal with and it’s certainly not easy. While some individuals find it challenging to cover their basic expenses such as bills, food, or housing, others can manage their necessities but have to use their savings for additional expenses.
The surge in financial stress is causing understandable distress, and Lifeline has observed a corresponding increase in calls related to financial troubles in recent months.
However, comprehending and discovering methods to mitigate our financial stress, as well as its emotional consequences, can alleviate some of the difficulties during this trying period.
Understanding Financial Stress: Definition and Explanation
Experiencing difficulty in covering current expenses or feeling anxious about present or future finances indicates that you are undergoing financial stress. Like other types of stress, financial stress has two facets:
Objective financial difficulty: insufficient funds to pay for essential expenses or debts.
Subjective perceptions of current or future financial circumstances induce worry and distress.
Although these two aspects are interconnected, someone can experience difficulty in covering their expenses but not be excessively anxious about it. On the other hand, someone may be relatively financially stable but still feel significant stress concerning their finances.
What are the Causes of Financial Stress?
Numerous contextual and personal factors can impact an individual’s current level of financial stress.
Contextual factors refer to the societal-level influences on the present financial environment, including economic growth rates, market performance, governmental and political policies, and wealth distribution. These factors may differ among cultures and countries.
Personal factors that contribute to financial stress are distinct for each individual. Demographic characteristics such as age, gender, education, and ethnicity can impact one’s accessibility to financial resources.
Financial literacy and habits, personality traits that shape behavior and perspectives, and significant life events with financial implications (such as marriage, parenthood, or retirement) are additional personal factors that can impact financial stress.
The Severe Health Impacts of Financial Stress
Elevated levels of financial stress can adversely affect an individual’s well-being, resulting in heightened levels of psychological distress, anxiety, and depression.
According to a review, there is clear evidence linking financial stress and depression, and the risk of depression is most significant for individuals with low incomes.
An extensive survey of American adults revealed that increased financial concerns were linked to higher levels of psychological distress, particularly for unmarried individuals, unemployed, had lower income levels, and rented their homes.
Individuals who are more financially vulnerable in an objective sense are also more likely to experience adverse psychological effects due to financial stress.
Nonetheless, the perception of one’s financial situation also plays a crucial role. A study on older adults, including Australians, found that an individual’s satisfaction with their wealth was linked to their well-being, not just their financial situation.
Experiencing severe financial stressors, such as the compulsion to sell one’s home due to an inability to pay mortgage payments, can impact an individual’s psychological and physical health.
How Can I Address Financial Stress?
Although we cannot control the broader financial landscape or certain aspects of our financial circumstances, there are several straightforward methods to mitigate financial stress and its consequences.
Tip 1: Take Small Steps to Alleviate Financial Stress
Identify areas of your finances that can be improved and take action, even if it involves small steps. This may involve creating and adhering to a budget, trimming certain expenses, applying for financial aid, obtaining quotes for cheaper utilities or insurance, or considering a career shift. Even minor changes can enhance your financial state over time. Taking action during a challenging time can enhance your well-being by providing a greater sense of control.
Tip 2: Assess Your Perception of the Situation to Alleviate Financial Stress
Evaluate your perspective. Are you frequently fixated on the negative aspects of your situation while disregarding the positive ones? Are you excessively worrying about improbable catastrophes that are far away in the future? It is worthwhile to verify whether your perceptions about your financial situation are precise and balanced.
Tip 3: Avoid Being Too Hard on Yourself to Manage Financial Stress
It’s crucial to remember that your financial situation does not determine your worth as an individual, and becoming too attached to your financial status can exacerbate stress. Financial challenges can result from a range of factors, and only a few of them are within your control. By reminding yourself that your finances do not define your character, you can minimize feelings of guilt, shame, or sadness.
Tip 4: Make looking after you a priority.
Managing persistent financial stress can be exhausting. Thus, it is essential to prioritize self-care and utilize coping strategies that have proven to be effective in the past. This might involve setting aside time for relaxation, engaging in deep breathing exercises or meditation, seeking support from others, and participating in enjoyable activities. Permitting yourself to take such breaks can enhance your mood, outlook, and overall well-being.
Tip 5: Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
If you are encountering financial or psychological challenges, don’t hesitate to seek help. This could involve obtaining financial guidance or support to mitigate financial stress. If you perceive persistent feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, or depression, it’s advisable to seek aid from loved ones and consider consulting a mental health professional.