One of the biggest reasons for distress in our lives is not love per se or contemplating the meaning of life. It’s in our wallet.
This stressor has many names: dough, long green, loot, bread, moolah, bones, bills and bucks. No matter what you call it, money can lead to anguish in so many ways and that can cause illness.
With the recession, the fall of big financial giants on Wall Street, and criminal activity in financial circles that has cost people millions, the financial world has been turned on its ear. People who once put their trust in stocks, bonds and banks are now trying to rethink their position.
Now take a look at the little guy. He may have stocks but mostly he has the mortgage on his house, his car note and maybe a 401k at work. When it comes to investing, he is a novice or afraid to explore new areas. He may wonder where he stands in the big picture if the rich are being brought low by financial woes.
Financial woes can happen to any of us. They seem to happen all at once but in reality it probably comes on slowly. As human beings it is our nature to apply the stages of grief to financial problems. We first deny, then get angry, play the blame game and then bargain for more time. It is hard to get to the acceptance stage because somewhere in there the stress of it all affects our health.
Stress is a silent killer. It comes on stealthily and then packs a wallop that lays us low. A financial issue can lead to all sorts of stress-related symptoms that undermine our health. Physiological and psychological changes take place that can weaken the immune system and potentially leave us mortally wounded.
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In this article you will learn about:
- The types of financial worries that people often experience
- The health issues that financial problems can cause
- How to regain your health and finances from the brink
No one likes to talk about money, but if we are to survive physically and financially someone needs to start spilling the beans. A healthy respect for money and fiscal knowledge can go a long way to fighting back against unhealthy views of money that stress us out.
TYPES OF FINANCIAL WORRIES
We pledge to love and honor forever, but sometimes forever doesn’t last quite as long as we thought. A divorce can plunge a family into financial crisis. Besides custody of any children, there is a question of dividing the marital assets. If only one spouse worked, then the other is now left with no income and will need to find a way to support themselves.
Dividing up assets includes the marital home most often. Going from one home to two new places to live can place a financial hardship on one or both spouses.
Death is always a struggle to come to terms with. Losing a family member can place a financial burden on the surviving members. In the case of no will or no insurance, it is up to the family to pay burial expenses for the deceased as well as pay any outstanding debt.
When the death is a spouse, this can turn your life upside down emotionally and financially. First the one you love is gone. Second, if they were the primary wage earner, there is a loss of primary income for the family. Any insurance money has to be sorted out but that is no guarantee that you will be able to afford to live for long without another form of income to sustain you.
We all hope that we will stay healthy for as long as we live. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. At any age an illness can strike, debilitating us and decimating any finances we have. Even with insurance, a lengthy hospital stay or home care can add up – especially if you were not expecting it.
Without health coverage this can be an even more devastating scenario. Many thousands of Americans are living without any type of health coverage for themselves or their families. It could be that their employer doesn’t offer it or that they can’t afford the premiums. Either way, without it, medical costs add up quite quickly.
Loss of a Job
With the recession, it is not uncommon to see companies going under and employees getting laid off. With no steady income, bills begin to pile up. Some employees didn’t have a retirement plan or the company can’t meet their match. The future can look bleak.
The prospect of a new job may not be on the horizon. Depending on your position in the company and your age, another job paying the same or comparable may not be available. Even a lower paying job may be hard to come by. Families are left with the fear that they will lose their homes or the ability to care for their loved ones.
This is a common reason for financial worries but here it is presented in a new way. Most of the time, we are looking at individuals who got into debt due to poor spending habits. Now, people are using their credit cards to supplement loss in income. When the money runs low, they pay for groceries, gas and some bills with credit cards.
This can only get you so far with no money to make sufficient payments on the balance. Eventually the credit card debt spirals out of control and there are still the monthly household bills to pay.
The weather is an unpredictable force of nature. Floods, fires, earthquakes and tornados have ravaged cities, towns and countries all over the world. Remember Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana? Severe property damage can leave you without a home or the money to relocate.
If you have savings, these may go to keep you afloat while you wait for the insurance payment to come through. That can take months. In the meantime you have to live somehow.
Serving your country is a noble act. But, the families who are left to survive while their loved ones serve do not always make it unscathed. It can be a hardship for spouses and children to try to live on a small income during a long deployment.
This covers a variety of financial issues. Grandparents are raising grandkids these days due to unfit parents, death of a parent or even incarceration. When they should be retiring they are raising the next generation.
On a fixed income, this can be a hard sell. They worry about their health and how they will be able to provide for their grandchildren. Resources are available but gaining access to them is a long process. Also, if the parent is still alive but behind bars or unfit, it will take an act of the courts to gain custody of that grandchild so the grandparent can make decisions regarding their care.
HEALTH PROBLEMS THAT FINANCIAL PRESSURES CAN CAUSE
Let’s look at the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome. This is the response that happens in a stressful situation that poses a danger to your body.
Increased amounts of adrenalin are produced and it shoots through your system to your extremities. The muscles are ready; the pupils are dilated; you are ready to either fight or flee in a hurry.
The body is not meant to exist in this heightened state for long periods of time. Besides adrenalin, cortisol is also produced. This hormone is one that increases belly fat. And we all know that increased belly fat is an indicator for heart disease risk.
With prolonged stressful situations, the body remains in a state of high alert. This can lead to physical changes that contribute to a variety of illnesses. It is not easy to fight back when anxiety has you in its grip. Keep reading to find out what your body could be in for when financial stresses affect your life.
It has many names and many variations: the seasonal blues and the blahs, to name a few. We are referring to clinical depression. Prolonged stress that is not handled well can send our emotions into a downward spiral.
Depression can have some genetic components but it is also affected by stress. Changes in the body can bring about chemical imbalances in neurotransmitter production in the brain, leading to clinical depression. There are people walking around right now who are clinically depressed but deny the fact, believing that it will pass.
This state can also be brought on by fear of the unknown. Creditor calls each day can fuel the feeling that there is no hope for your situation. Without treatment, this can lead to desperate acts such as suicide or psychotic episodes.
One herbal remedy for depression that can offer relief is MindSoothe. It is effective and 100% guaranteed.
It is not uncommon for those suffering from high levels of chronic stress to experience frequent headaches. Worries and adrenalin rushes can lead to high blood pressure. Constriction of blood vessels can lead to throbbing pain in the head.
People who previously didn’t have headaches may now be experiencing severe migraines. These are more advanced headaches that can lead to blackouts, sensitivities to light and sound, and sharp stabbing pains behind the eyes or across the forehead. Migraines have been known to cause nausea and vomiting.
There have been reports written about the benefits of sleep. When the body is at rest, it shuts down all non-vital systems so it can repair itself. For the average person, eight hours of sleep is recommended each night for the body to recover from the day’s activities.
When we skimp on our sleep we create a sleep debt. Just like financial debt, it can get out of control. There are not enough hours in the day to recoup the lost sleep. If you try to catch up on the weekend you could feel you are sleeping your life away.
With financial stress, insomnia can create a further sleep deficit. The mind needs time to unwind before you go to sleep at night. If you’ve ever noticed, you don’t always fall asleep right away. You replay the day’s events like a recording. Once the tape stops playing you can rest.
The tape never stops playing when you are under duress. Your mind constantly keeps rolling and replaying your fears, anxieties and the object of your woes. Some people barely get any sleep because they always reliving their worst.
Lack of sleep can affect the waking hours as well. People begin to hallucinate, become irritable, suffer from paranoia, depression and hypertension. After several days without sleep you may feel the same effects in your body as a person who is under the influence of alcohol.
No one ever knows what they will do when faced with a financial dilemma. We would all like to think that we’d be able to bear up under the stress, but no one really knows. More often than not we are not ready for the onslaught and our coping mechanisms are inadequate to the task.
Alcohol abuse is not uncommon for those who have been dealt a financial blow. But, it is a vicious cycle. Alcohol is a depressant. Instead of making you forget your worries, you actually relive them. To stop the pain you drink even more.
Gambling is often a habit that is born out of desperation. It is said that addictive personalities are more likely to be susceptible to gambling problems. For those in financial dilemmas it seems to be an answer, a quick fix, for the short-term need for money. But, you can rack up more financial problems by adding gambling debts to the pile.
Smoking is also an addictive behavior that can result from financial pressures. Cigarette smoke can affect the elasticity of blood vessels, contributing to hypertension and heart disease. This is in addition to the hundreds of harmful chemicals you are allowing to enter your lungs with each puff.
It is cheap to eat poorly. That is just a fact. When money gets tight, people buy what they can afford and not necessarily what they should be eating. Over time, poor eating habits can affect the blood sugar, the heart and the kidneys.
But obesity is an issue in another way. Some people are emotional eaters. Stressful situations like financial problems can cause overeating as a way to cope with the pressure. Eating comfort foods actually releases feel-good endorphins in the brain, prompting you to eat more. The added weight increases health problems and does nothing to solve the financial issue.
HOW TO REGAIN YOUR HEALTH
The body can be affected by stress in plenty of negative ways. The stressor here is financial worry. It can be brought on by a number of different financial situations. Some come on suddenly and others develop over time. The main point is that we are not ready when they do appear.
What’s the answer? Take back your power and your health. We have presented the downside; now here is the upside.
You can overcome the health problems and the financial worries behind it. It may not be easy but it will be worth it to have peace of mind and a more solid financial future.
Here are some possible ways to help you to face your financial worries.
Before you can even make a plan sometimes, you need to get help. Start right now.
You may be suffering from a number of the physical ailments on this list already. Before your body gets any worse, see a doctor. If you can’t afford to pay a private doctor, visit the emergency room. The first priority here is addressing your health concerns.
If a doctor places you on medication, take it. Ask for generics to lower the cost of prescriptions. Explain your situation to the doctor. They may be able to give you some samples to tide you over until you can afford the medicine.
Seek Financial Advice
Whatever your problem, there is an avenue that you can take to find a resolution. Talk to a financial counselor. Explain the situation and see if they can help. Between them and you, make a plan to tackle the financial crisis.
The short-term goal is to get you back on your feet. Government assistance may be available to help with food and money towards rent and other bills. Apply to see if you qualify for benefits in your particular situation.
Long term, you want to find ways to work to resolve the financial burden that has entered your life. A financial planner can help you come up with viable steps for managing the debt and dissolving it. This will likely include the creation of an emergency fund. This type of fund comprises about six months’ worth of pay so that you have a cushion to be able to pay your bills should financial disaster of some kind befall you.
If you are still working, check with the human resources officer to find out if your company offers the Employee Assistance Program. This gives you access to free legal consultation as well as personal counseling. Getting in touch with a therapist can help you to face your feelings about the financial situation and offer coping therapies to avoid becoming chronically stressed again.
Learn to De-Stress
Exercise is a great stress reliever. It also releases endorphins in the brain while improving cardiovascular health and mental focus. When you can think clearly you can come up with solutions to your problems.
Take a mental health break. Each day spend time alone unwinding from your day. This can involve deep breathing exercises, yogic poses or listening to soothing music while you focus on candle light or a mantra. Processing your day in this way puts events in perspective so you can deal with them one at a time.
Eat healthy. When the body gets what it needs, it can function properly. A healthy body is strong enough to fight back against the effects of stress.
Ease your mind with a plan. Create a budget that will allow you to handle your debt and build a savings account at the same time. This may mean cutting out some expenses, but if you are already deep in debt, those won’t be as hard to give up.
Avoid any future financial stress. If your loved one died without a will, create one today for yourself. A will protects your children’s financial future. You can even pay for funeral expenses ahead of time to avoid burdening your loved ones.
Locate important papers and keep them together. This includes insurance policies, deeds, wills, trust documents, and anything else of a financial nature. Go over it so that you understand everything that is before you in the event that you will need to handle financial matters yourself. There is peace of mind in being prepared.
Financial worries don’t just go away. When we hide from them, they grow larger than life. This can lead to chronic stresses in our lives. Over time, stress can take its toll and leave our bodies in bad shape.
If you are under financial stress, don’t wait until it gets bad enough to cause permanent physical damage. Take back your life and your financial outlook. Knowledge brings power. Once you know what you are facing and how it can affect you, strive to use all resources at your disposal to fight back.
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