The Link Between Your Finances and Your Mental Health

The Link Between Your Finances and Your Mental Health

What’s good for your bank account is good for your mind and body, too.

We all know that the mismanagement of our finances can lead to some serious money troubles, like the inability to pay monthly bills, a lower credit score or even the repossession of belongings or home foreclosure. But financial issues can lead to serious health issues, too—specifically, chronic stress.

If you’ve ever felt stressed about your finances, you’re not alone. About 72 percent of Americans report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time and 31 percent report their finances being a major source of conflict in their relationships. The bottom line? Many of us are stressed about our money—and it’s not just hurting our wallets.    

How stress harms the mind and body
Chronic, everyday stress can have countless negative effects on both your mental and physical health. According to the American Psychological Association, unchecked stress can:

  • Contribute to the development of depression or anxiety, and negatively impact your relationships with your partner, family and friends. Although depression can have many possible causes, the inability to cope with chronic stress can increase your risk. If you’re experiencing feelings of sadness, anger or hopelessness, it’s important to get help ASAP. Consider talking with a therapist or trusted family member or friend. Depression can be overwhelming and even scary, but you don’t have to go it alone.  
  • Harm the cardiovascular system, making you more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. A sustained, elevated blood pressure and constant surges of the body’s stress hormones can take a serious toll on your heart and blood vessels.
  • Cause gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea or constipation. Constant stress can trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can affect how your body digests and absorbs nutrients.
  • Affect the reproductive systems in both men and women. Men can experience decreases in testosterone and sperm production and may even develop erectile dysfunction; women may experience changes in menstruation, severe PMS symptoms and decreased libido.

The good news is that are steps you can take to get your finances in check and get your financial stress under control.

Boost your finances to boost your health
Effectively managing your money won’t just set you up for a more comfortable financial future—it’ll help you take control of your stress, too. Not sure where to begin? Try developing some of these smart money habits:

  • Create a budget—and stick to it. Taking a closer look at your income versus your expenses every month can help you identify good and bad spending habits, discover new opportunities to save and thwart unnecessary spending. The best part? You can choose a strategy that works with your budget and lifestyle, like working with a financial advisor, keeping a highly detailed spending journal or downloading a free budgeting app. The most important thing is to choose a technique that fits your needs. If tracking your budget becomes a hassle, are you really going to dedicate the time?
  • Make saving easier. When you’re planning your budget, be sure to include a monthly savings goal; then, set up automatic transfers from checking to savings. Building savings into your budget—and setting up automatic transfers—will make it feel like a regular monthly expense.
  • Plan for your future. When the time comes, will you be ready to retire? If you don’t already have one, consider opening a Roth IRA or 401(k). It’ll help set you up for a solid financial future and may even boost your health—one study showed that patients contributing to a 401(k) practiced healthy behaviors up to 22 percent more often than non-contributors.   

If you’re feeling stressed about your finances, it’s important to find the tools and resources that can help you spend less, save more and feel good about your financial future.

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

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