it may come as a surprise, but mental well-being and financial stress often go hand in hand. While everyone worries about money from time to time, financial stress is a serious concern when it disrupts your daily life and affects your well-being.
Money and finances are not their favorite topic of conversation for many people, but that doesn't mean it has to stress you out. The sooner you learn to deal with your worries and take action, the easier it will be to regain control.
The link between financial stress and mental health:
Financial well-being is an essential part of our overall well-being and peace of mind, writes Forbes. If you have money worries, it helps to understand the link between the two.
"But when you're stressed, you often have less energy to use. Your cognitive ability is impaired. And the more financial worries, the less time and space to do the things needed to recharge that cognitive battery." says Paul. "This creates a vicious cycle."
For example, financial stress can result from low income that prevents you from meeting your needs or supporting yourself. When money worries become intense(er), it can affect both your mental and physical health.
From financial worries to stress and anxiety....
When you have worries about your financial situation, it often leads to stress or anxiety. A natural reaction of your body when you can't afford certain things you do need. Think roof over your head, food, heating or proper care.
In addition, money worries can affect your social life. You may feel alone because you don't want to burden others with your worries, or guilty because you need support.
When you are in danger, your brain goes into action mode to do everything it can to get yourself and your loved ones back to safety. This used to be useful because it prepared your body to fight or flee (for example, from that bear in front of you).
This trigger still exists in our brains, but is just a little less useful than it used to be. After all, it takes a lot more to solve your financial worries than to escape from a bear.
And so our brains stay in action mode while we don't (yet) know quite what the right actions to take are. The result: a state of chronic alertness. And this alertness, in turn, can fuel all sorts of stress-related symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, feeling gloomy and poor sleep.
... and from stress and anxiety to financial worries
When you are not feeling well, stressed or feeling less or not good mentally, you often notice it in your concentration, memory and mood, among other things. You may have trouble focusing and remembering things.
But let these very traits be important in getting your finances in order. With less brain space, it becomes more challenging to maintain an overview and make decisions about your income and expenses, for example.
In addition, it is harder to say no to temptations when your cognitive resources are depleted. For example, you buy things that make you feel better in the short term but that you don't actually need.
"Just think about a long workday when you've used all your brainpower," Paul says. "You're more likely to prefer ordering food instead of diving into the kitchen yourself to prepare a healthy meal. Especially compared to a day when you had plenty of time to relax."
When you are stressed, you are more likely to opt for convenience. Despite that not always being the best option financially.
How do you deal with financial worries?
But how do you make sure your money worries don't interfere with your daily life? The answer: by creating enough mental brain space to deal with them. The tips below will help you do just that.
1. Ask for help
It's tempting to keep your financial worries to yourself, because you don't want to bother others with them or would rather keep your situation to yourself.
However, it makes sense to be open about what is going on and discuss your situation with others. It feels good to talk about it (with friends or family, for example) and lightens your burden. You don't have to carry and solve it all by yourself.
It also helps to talk to an expert or financial advisor. They can not only put your situation in perspective but also reach out for practical solutions. There are many organizations that offer free financial advice, whether for debt management, budgeting, or financial help in general. Daring to ask for help is a strength, not a weakness.
BYOU has a lot of financial support professionals who are ready to help.
2. Schedule time to fret
When we worry, we fret. This is human behavior: it is our brain's way of arriving at a solution. This works well when you have influence over the situation and there is actually a solution. But less well if you have no influence over it. After all, we can't influence every aspect of our lives.
Therefore, when you have concerns, it helps to divide them into the following three categories:
Things I can directly influence
Things I have indirect influence over
Things I have no influence over
For this exercise, look at the circle of influence:
Our brain is programmed to worry about everything. That which we have influence over and that which we have no influence over. We mull things over. And that can be quite exhausting when you get stuck in it.
Therefore, try to choose one moment in the day for yourself when you can consciously mull as hard as you want (for example, after your work day) about the things you have no control over. Do this for a maximum of fifteen minutes. If necessary, write things down if you like. We call this the mulling quarter. After fifteen minutes, you don't have to worry about these things anymore. After all, you've already done that.
If you find yourself thinking again later in the day about the things you can't control, tell yourself, "Not now, I've already had my mulling quarter (or it's coming). I am now turning my attention to other things."
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
As we mentioned above, it is more challenging to maintain healthy habits when you are stressed or uncomfortable. But just making sure you have a good and healthy routine will help you feel better. Try to:
Eat healthy (plenty of fruits and vegetables)
Get enough exercise (yoga, walking, swimming, running, what do you like to do?)
Structure your days
Maintain a good sleep rhythm (going to bed and out of bed at set times)
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Relaxing enough (take a bath, read a book, go for a walk in nature)
With a small disclaimer: don't be too hard on yourself. If you've had a long and tiring day, it's okay to enjoy an evening of Netflix on the couch. The world doesn't collapse if you don't do anything for a while. And afterwards, pick up your healthy habits again with new energy.
4. Practice mindfulness
Stress is often created by thoughts of things that could go wrong in the future. Mindfulness helps you not get carried away by these thoughts and be more resilient.
Mindfulness and breathing techniques help you let go of any stress, thoughts and fears and not get dragged down by them. For example, try this mindfulness exercise to calm your thoughts.
If you feel like the stress over your financial situation is becoming too much, seek help. By sharing your worries with friends or family, you reduce stress and feel less alone. It also helps to seek out a support group or professional help with finances.
Here are some extra steps you can take to try to reduce financial stress.
Make a budget: Creating a budget can help you get a better sense of your financial situation and identify areas where you can cut back on spending.
Reduce your debt: Paying off debt can be a major source of financial stress. Consider ways to pay off your debt faster, such as by making higher payments or consolidating your debt.
Increase your income: If you're struggling to make ends meet, consider ways to increase your income, such as by taking on additional work or negotiating a raise at your current job.
Seek financial advice: A financial advisor or planner can help you create a plan to manage your money more effectively and reduce financial stress.
Know that you can always seek our BYOU professional support to deal with your feelings and thoughts. Talking to a BYOU psychologist will provide relief and give you the right tools to not get carried away by your worries.