It’s no secret that money is one of the most stressful aspects of life. We all want to know how to manage our finances, however it can be overwhelming to try and figure out where to start. However the truth is, money stress can have a profound impact on our health. Stress can lead to physical and mental health issues, and It’s vital to address the problem head-on.
In this blog, we’ll explore the links between money, stress and health, and how we can take action to reduce our financial stress and improve our overall wellness.
So yes, stress is an inevitable part of life, however when it comes to money, it can be particularly challenging to manage.
As we’ll discuss in more detail, financial stress can affect everything from our relationships and our physical health, to our mental health. It can cause a great deal of anxiety, depression, and even heart disease.
There’s no denying money stress is a real and serious issue for many people and It’s becoming increasingly obvious in research that money stress is affecting our health.
Unfortunately, it’s something that many people don’t feel comfortable talking about. They’re too ashamed to admit that they’re struggling to make ends meet or that they’re unable to pay their bills.
That’s where research is handy to give us an accurate insight into how money actually affects our lives.
Surveys and reports on this topic completed in 2017 and 2018 looked at what was really going on for people around money and stress and gave people a chance to anonymously express their feelings (bearing in mind this was before the covid response happened and the more recent findings will likely be even more pronounced).
The results were interesting to say the least and found that financial stress –
– was the top cause of stress for Americans
– is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety
– is associated with higher rates of heart disease
– is linked to poorer overall health outcomes, and that
– 36 percent of Americans struggled to make ends meet.
These are massive numbers and paint a very bleak financial-reality-picture for large parts of the US population. I feel it’s reasonable to consider that these types of results are occurring in other counties besides the USA. So, if you’re feeling the strain of financial stress, you’re not alone.
Now, in terms of money and stress, one of the most common questions is –
Why do I stress about money?
In simple terms we need money to pay for our basic needs, such as food and shelter, and when we don’t have enough of it, we can become stressed out.
On top of that, we’re often bombarded with images of people who seem to have it all – a luxury car, substantial house, designer clothes, to name a few.
It can be challenging not to feel jealous and inadequate when comparing our own financial situation to theirs. It’s no wonder that so many people experience money-related stress.
And when we’re constantly worrying about our finances, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. We may start to feel hopeless and overwhelmed, and it can seem almost impossible to break free from the cycle of worrying.
The reality is that money is an important part of our lives, and it’s important to take care of our finances. However when we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out by our financial situation, it can be tricky to make rational decisions.
We may find ourselves spending money we don’t have or making bad investments in an attempt to get out of debt.
Money stress is a very real problem, and it can be difficult to break free from it.
An important step to take is to invest the time to assess our financial situation and come up with a plan to get out of debt and start saving for our future.
It’s also important to find ways to reduce our stress levels, such as taking time for self-care, learning to manage our emotions, and talking to someone about our financial worries.
We’ll look at other actions steps we can take shortly, however let’s look first at other money stress-causes.
What causes money stress?
Money stress can be caused by a whole variety of factors, including-
• Low income – especially when it’s too low to cover your basic expenses
• High debt – for example credit card debt, student loans can make it difficult to stay afloat financially
• Unexpected expenses – for example medical or vets bills and car repairs, can quickly put a strain on your finances
• Job loss – can be a huge financial blow and take it’s toll stress-wise.
• Poor money management – can lead to missed payments, overdrafts, and late fees all of which can add up quickly
• Poor budgeting – or being budget-less can make it difficult to keep track of and stay on top of your finances
• Unforeseen life events – for example a death in the family, illness, or divorce can have a huge impact on your finances
• Lack of financial knowledge – or understanding of the basics of personal finance can make it difficult to make sound financial decisions.
Regardless of the cause, money stress can be overwhelming and have serious consequences if not addressed.
Can financial stress cause depression?
Yes, financial stress can have a significant impact on our mental health, leading to depression and anxiety.
Studies have shown (1-4) that financial strain can be a major source of stress, with many people feeling overwhelmed by their finances and struggling to make ends meet.
Plus it can be difficult to cope with the uncertainty of an unstable financial situation, leading to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Financial stress can have a variety of negative effects on mental health as it can lead to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, which can negatively impact our mood and mental wellbeing. It can also be a major source of sleep disturbances, which can contribute to depression and anxiety.
Financial stress can lead to a lack of focus and motivation, leading to difficulty in completing tasks and feeling overwhelmed.
There are a number of ways to manage financial stress and reduce its impact on our mental health. We’ll cover possible action-items shortly, although it’s worth mentioning the value of maintaining a budget and tracking spending to help us gain control of finances.
Additionally, seeking help from a financial advisor or debt counsellor can really make a positive difference, plus of course practicing self-care and taking time to relax and unwind.
Money stress in relationships
One of the most significant impacts on relationship-harmony is, yes you’ve guessed it, financial stress.
Financial stress can have a major impact on a relationship, as it can create tension, feelings of insecurity, and even lead to arguments and disagreements.
Financial stress is often caused by an inability to pay bills, to save money, or to have enough money for everyday needs.
This type of stress can lead to feelings of inadequacy, resentment, and guilt, all of which can have a negative effect on the relationship.
When one partner feels like they’re not able to provide for the other, it can create feelings of inadequacy and resentment. This can lead to arguments and disagreements, which can further strain the relationship.
In addition to the emotional effects, financial stress can also lead to physical issues, including an increase in stress hormones mentioned earlier, which can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping.
This can further impact the relationship, as it can make it difficult to communicate or be intimate.
Overall, financial stress can have a significant impact (5,6,7) on a relationship, leading to feelings of inadequacy and resentment, plus physical issues.
How can I cope with money stress?
Some suggested steps to cope include –
1. Create a budget –
Creating a budget is a great way to get a better understanding of your finances, by helping you track your expenses and making sure you’re not overspending.
2. Look for ways to reduce expenses –
Take a look at your budget and see if there are any areas where you can reduce expenses. Do you really need that morning coffee or could you make it at home?
3. Prioritise expenses –
Figure out which expenses are essential and which can be eliminated or reduced. Paying for essential expenses like rent, food, and utilities are best placed treated your priority.
4. Track your spending –
Tracking your spending can help you identify areas where you’re overspending. It can also help you stay on top of your finances and ensure that you’re not missing any payments.
5. Develop a plan –
Developing a plan to manage your finances can help you identify areas where you need to make changes and set achievable goals.
6. Reach out for help –
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by money stress, it’s important to know that there’s the option to reach out to many organisations and resources available to help you get back on track.
7. Take care of yourself –
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Money stress can take a toll on your mental and physical health, so it can really help to make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, and doing activities that you enjoy.
Money stress can be a difficult thing to handle, however understanding the causes of it and learning how to effectively cope with it can make a big difference.
Is money worth the stress?
It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about money and all the things it can buy, however it’s important to remember that money is only a tool, and it’s not worth the stress or worry it can cause.
Financial stress can be incredibly damaging to your health, both mentally and physically. Spending too much time worrying about money can cause people to become overwhelmed and anxious, causing them to neglect their own health and wellbeing.
As we’ve mentioned, it can also lead to depression, insomnia, and other physical ailments.
On the other hand, money can also be a great source of comfort and security.
It can provide us with the means to purchase items and experiences that can contribute to our happiness, and it can also give us the freedom to pursue our passions and dreams. Having a certain level of financial security can be both valuable and empowering, plus can help us to live a more fulfilled and meaningful life.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that money isn’t everything. There are many things in life that money won’t buy, such as love, friendship, and happiness. Accepting that money won’t be able to replace these things is a great mind-space to be.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide.
While money can be a great source of comfort and security, it’s important to remember that it’s just a tool and that it doesn’t have to be the source of your worries.
Money is important, although it’s not everything. Focusing on the things that truly matter can help us to live a more fulfilling life.
Financial stress can have a significant impact on our mental health and lead to depression, anxiety and heart disease, amongst a host of other health issues.
If you feel that stress is affecting your life more than you like, then it can help to the take steps we outlined above to manage your financial stress, and so reduce its impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.
Fi Jamieson-Folland D.O., I.N.H.C., is The LifeStyle Aligner. She’s an experienced practitioner since 1992 in Europe, Asia and New Zealand as a qualified Osteopath, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, speaker, educator, writer, certified raw vegan gluten-free chef, and Health Brand Ambassador.
1. “Financial Stress- Effects on Mental and Physical Health.” (2015)
2. “The Role of Financial Stress in Mental Health and Well-Being.” (2018).
3. “Financial Stress and Mental Health.” (2009).
4. “Financial Stress- How to Manage It.” (2018).
– Financial Stress is the Top Cause of Stress for Americans. American Psychological Association. https-//www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/07/financial-stress
– Half of Americans Struggle to Make Ends Meet. American Psychological Association. https-//www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/06/half-americans-struggle
– Relationship between Financial Stress and Mental Health Outcomes. Mental Health America.
– Financial Stress Linked to Heart Disease. Mayo Clinic. https-//www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/expert-answers/financial-stress/faq-20159044 5
– Financial Stress and Health Outcomes. American Psychological Association.