How to Cope With Financial Stress

Woman sitting on the floor surronded by bills and a calculator, sitting with her dog.

As many as 78 percent of Americans may currently be living paycheck to paycheck. (Image: Rawpixelimages via Dreamstime)

According to Verywell Mind: “Financial stress is emotional tension that is specifically related to money.” Financial stress can happen to anyone but is more often found in low-income households. Financial stress can trigger anxiety and depression and cause friction amongst loved ones. 

Financial stress can also cause physical symptoms like insomnia, headaches, and fatigue. 

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Some signs that financial stress is affecting your health and relationships include arguing with the people you love over money, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings. 

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 60 percent of Americans feel worried about their finances. However, other data reveals that up to 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

In October 2021, BetterUp Blog published “Financial stress: What’s money got to do with sanity?” Managing money is a big part of adult life, and when that’s not going well for us, nothing else seems like it is either. Although financial stress is usually a type of chronic stress, its impact on health and well-being can be severe. 

Under financial stress when managing money is not going well, nothing else seems to either.
Managing money is a big part of adult life, and when that’s not going well, nothing else seems to either. (Image: Siriporn Kaenseeya via Dreamstime)

Stress is likely to show up as physical symptoms like headaches, heart disease, high blood pressure, or stomach issues. Being stressed can also make it challenging to prioritize healthy habits such as getting enough sleep and eating healthily. 

According to a Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people, their financial situations worsened their mental health problems. Forty-six percent of people in debt also have a mental health problem. 

How to cope with financial stress

Coping with financial stress is an important goal. “Learning to cope with financial stress and effectively manage your financial situation can help you feel more in control of your life, reduce your stress and build a more secure future,” (Verywell Mind).  

The following are some tips for coping with financial stress: 

Declutter your budget 

Regular budget checks will help you take control of your finances. They are an essential tool for improving your financial health. Set aside time each week or month to review your spending and prioritize essential debts like rent and mortgage payments.  

Understand the debt cycle 

Understanding debt is the first step to getting out of it. Do your research and pay attention to interest rates on credit cards and installment plans. 

Closeup of a woman's hand holding credit cards while she sits at a desk using a calculator.
Pay attention to interest rates on credit cards and installment plans. (Image: Siriporn Kaenseeya via Dreamstime)

Don’t forget general stress management 

As you improve your financial situation, you can also reduce stress by practicing deep breathing, yoga, exercising regularly, and eating nutritional meals frequently. 

The recent economic difficulties mean that even more of us face financial struggles and hardships. While we all know that deep down, there are many more essential things in life than money, when you’re struggling financially, fear and stress can take over your world. Even when things look like a disaster waiting to happen, some strategies can ease the stress of money problems. These include seeking professional advice and opening up to family members. 

Helping others 

If you know someone who is experiencing financial stress, here are some ways to reassure and help them without causing embarrassment: Offer what you have, whether that is clothing or food. Reassure them that they’re not alone and offer to help them with budgeting plans. 

Budgeting is creating a plan to spend money and balancing expenses compared to income. Having a clearer budgeting perspective allows for fewer financial mistakes.

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