Financial stress is a serious problem in America. Data collected by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 61% of Americans say they feel stressed about money, and nearly three-quarters of respondents said they experienced mental health issues such as feeling overwhelmed, headaches, fatigue, and changes in sleep habits.
The good news is that the economy has rebounded well since last spring. However, many of us are still feeling the financial effects of the pandemic due to job losses and reduced returns on investments.
If you are experiencing financial issues and the stress that comes along with it — because of the pandemic or otherwise — it’s important to take care of your mental health now more than ever before.
Understand the Source of Your Stress
Financial stress is a chronic form of stress that can lead to serious health issues. It’s more common in low-income households and is typically rooted in job loss, overblown expenses, or a lack of financial understanding.
Because stress increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, and cognitive decline, it should be a call to action to start making positive changes. If you start seeing physical symptoms of your stress, it may motivate you to create a financial plan for some of the burdens you face.
Create a Financial Plan
A lot of the stress we feel around finances comes from uncertainty. You might lie awake at night adding up expenditures, trying to figure out if you can cover all your bills — these kinds of stress-induced habits simply aren’t helpful.
Instead, you need to create a clear financial plan that outlines all of your expenditures and income and gives you a clear picture of your financial situation. Depending on the amount of income you have, it may be a good idea to contact a financial advisor who can help you make risk assessments and evaluate the efficacy of your investments.
You can still make a useful financial plan without a financial advisor. You should outline all of your current and predicted expenses for the next few months to get a clear “baseline” for the amount of income you need to break even. Once you’ve established this baseline, you can start saving towards an emergency fund.
Everyone should have a reserve of money ready to cover unexpected expenses such as medical bills, car repairs, or unexpected job loss. The amount of money you should have saved will be relative to your cost of living but should cover somewhere between three to six months of essential expenditures.
Building an emergency fund can take some time, but online calculators can help you assess how much you need to put away each month. You should keep your emergency fund in a savings account and research any restrictions on withdrawals your bank may have to avoid accruing fines.
Creating an emergency fund will give you peace of mind to spend money on optional expenses such as gifts and vacations without feeling guilty.
Once you’ve created a financial plan and have a clear budget, you should put aside a little spending money of your own. This can be as little as $15 a week, which you spend on small rewards like take-out, coffee, or a night out with friends.
It’s important to work this spending into your budget, as giving yourself some breathing room will increase your overall financial wellness and leave you feeling as though the time you spent budgeting and planning was worthwhile.
Asking for help can be hard — particularly when money is involved. You’ll need to speak to a financial professional before taking on any debt, but you can always ask for non-financial support from friends and family.
By building a network of support, you can better your chances of overcoming stressful mental health issues like depression or anxiety. You’ll also find that many of your friends and family have probably been through financial difficulties at some point in their life and may pick up useful tips and tricks from them.
If you don’t have a strong support network of family and friends, you can build your own mental resilience by creating a safe imaginary space through activities like journaling, listening to music, or drawing. This will help you find peace of mind and will give you the energy to take productive steps towards financial freedom.
Dealing with financial stress is difficult. Much of our perceived value is rooted in material things and financial freedom. When we can’t provide enough for ourselves or our families, it’s only natural to feel stressed.
Being proactive is the key to overcoming financial stress. You can start by creating a budget and canceling any expenses that aren’t necessary. Over time, you should start to build a healthy emergency fund that will keep you from stressing about money. Of course, if money worries are overwhelming you, you should find help by seeking mental health professionals who can help you manage stress so you can focus on working towards financial freedom.
About the Author: Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.
Image by www.rawpixel.com
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
Recommended for You
- Barriers to Recovery: Shame - November 27, 2023
- Navigating the Intersection of Psychology and Psychiatric Care for Mental Well-being - November 24, 2023
- Empowering Patients: How Doctors Promote Active Engagement in Mental Health Treatment - November 20, 2023