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Dealing with financial stress and improving mental health

minute read

    Everyone’s financial journey is different — so is how we process our finances, which can impact how we manage it.

    If you’re feeling stressed about your current situation, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 66% of Americans feel that money is a huge source of their stress.

    So, how do we try to balance it all out? In this article, we’ll review:

    • How financial stress affects your health
    • How poor credit can contribute to money stress
    • Ways of coping with stress from financial problems

    How financial stress affects your health

    Financial stressors can include a wide range of factors, which could include:

    • Debt
    • Looming credit card bills
    • Accruing interest
    • Deadlines to save for an important purchase
    • Unexpected loss of income
    • Sudden medical bills
    • Low checking or savings account balances

    Whatever the external factors are, they can impact what’s going on for you internally. Additionally, how you grew up with money can impact your response to it. For example, in a Credit Talk episode with gold-medal winning snowboarder Brenna Huckaby, Huckaby expressed that her mindset around money was that it was “constantly fleeting and it could disappear at any moment.” This caused her anxiety around money and sparked her to change her thinking around her financial well-being.

    Stress, specifically financial stress, can affect your overall health in a few ways. Let’s go into more detail below.

    Physical effects

    Stress can manifest in a variety of physical ailments. These may include:

    • Headaches and/or migraines
    • Digestive issues
    • Higher blood pressure
    • Tension in the muscles
    • Heart arrhythmia
    • Weakened immune system

    When you’re feeling chronic stress, the body absorbs it. It can manifest in ailments that you otherwise wouldn’t experience. That’s why finding a healthy balance between managing your finances and taking care of your body and well-being is essential. Focus on the elements that you can control and start from there, taking small steps as you go so that you don’t overwork your system or feel additional burnout.

    Psychological effects

    Your brain is a part of your body, too — and when stress accumulates, you may start experiencing symptoms. These include:

    • Anxiety — your mind might be racing with ways to try to get yourself out of financial trouble
    • Depression — you may feel less motivated if you’re feeling discouraged about your financial state and money stress
    • Insomnia — feelings of restlessness may translate to a lack of sleep
    • Burnout/fatigue — your mind might be exhausted by the idea of budgeting, planning or sacrificing aspects of your life to make ends meet

    Even if you have a good mental health regimen, added stressors like financial stress can throw us off even on our best days. Preparing ahead of unexpected events and building a solid foundation over time can help keep you balanced even when times get tough. One way you can do this is by enrolling in Chase Credit Journey® where you can get a free personalized action plan provided by Experian™ to improve your credit score over time.

    How poor credit can contribute to money stress

    Even if you have adequate funds, having a poor credit score can add to money stress. Your credit score can help or hurt your chances at getting opportunities for things like credit card and loan approvals or better APRs. When you have a poor credit score (a 660 or lower VantageScore® or a FICO® score of less than 579), you could face some challenges.

    You might find that it’s harder to take out a loan or to find options that don’t come with higher fees. Getting denied these opportunities might add to your stress, especially if you’re already trying to manage your financial situation outside of your credit score.

    Remember — your credit score does not equate to your value or worth. A credit score is a tool and guide to help you and your lenders towards making important financial decisions. Your score is always changing and fluctuates over time.

    Ways of coping with stress from financial problems

    They say money can’t buy happiness, but money can solve a lot of stressful problems — from piling bills to medical expenses and more.

    When you are financially struggling, sometimes it’s not the money that will save you from stress. Money comes and goes, but how you treat yourself is a forever job. To help cope with stress from financial problems, try the following:

    • Focus on the things you can control instead of what you can’t. For example, what do I know I need to spend money on, and where can I save/cut back on spending?
    • Consult with an advisor. There are reputable organizations where you can get financial advice and guidance. Sometimes having a game plan can help make the stress and circumstances feel more manageable.
    • Track your progress. It’s easy to focus on the negative, but don’t forget to celebrate the small victories. One way you can do this is by tracking your credit score on Credit Journey®.
    • Work with your lenders. Sometimes your lender may be able to alter your agreement to make things a little less financially overwhelming, whether that’s extending a loan term or refinancing your home.
    • Ask for help. You may not realize how stress from financial problems is affecting you until you suddenly feel overwhelmed and isolated. Don’t be afraid to seek help from health care professionals, loved ones and friends who can support you during trying times.

    In summary

    Regardless of what your specific financial problems are, remember — you are not alone. Many Americans are feeling the impacts of inflation, struggling to pay their bills and carrying around lots of debt. While this is not an ideal place to be, it can help you to understand that your financial problems can be addressed in small, incremental steps. Credit scores and adequate funds are important — but your mental health is important too. Remember to take care of yourself and have compassion as you start embarking on your financial journey. To learn more about mental health and finances, listen to this episode of the Credit Talk podcast

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