Money worries are never far from mind – but did you know they can also affect your health?
Whether it’s a looming deadline at work or a race to get out the door on time, we all get stressed sometimes. But too much stress can be overwhelming – and according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, chronic stress can have an impact on our lives. Being stressed out affects our ability to concentrate and our self-confidence. It can even lead to sleep difficulties, headaches and more frequent illness.
While plenty of things in life may cause us to feel stressed, one of the biggest culprits is money. Before I faced facts and went bankrupt in 2005 I was losing a lot of sleep and it seemed like the headaches would never go away.
And far from just anecdotal, the evidence is strong. According to a national survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council, 42 per cent of Canadians now rank finances as their number-one source of stress. That’s not surprising when you consider how financially stretched we are. As we work to save for retirement and pay for our kids’ education, we’re also dealing with more debt than ever before. As I have noted many times, for the first time in our 147 year history, Canada’s consumer-debt-to-income ratio (total household debt compared to disposable income) topped 163.3 percent in 2014 as we take on debt to pay for homes, cars and vacations.
And these money worries are affecting our health. A recent study but Manulife and Ipso Reid shows that financial stress can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being – and even affect us on the job. Here are a few key findings:
- 76 per cent of those who report high stress levels say the state of their finances is partly or entirely to blame.
- Highly stressed individuals are significantly less likely to be motivated to do their best at work or feel they have a healthy work-life balance.
- Those who are very comfortable with their current financial situation are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy and are 1.5 times more likely to report that they are in good health. They are also more likely to be exercising regularly.
While being in poor financial shape can cause a lot of anxiety, (I know, I’ve been there), the good news is there are ways to help fix it. In fact, making improvements to your financial health can have a positive impact on your personal well-being. If you’re feeling stressed because of money issues, here are three steps you can take to help make things better:
- Face it. Finding money to contribute to your retirement savings or dealing with a drawer full of unpaid bills can seem like monumental tasks. Even today, over a decade later I struggle with this one, it’s easy to set your bills aside and forget about them, especially if you don’t have the money right now. But if I don’t stay on top of my bills I know that there will be a painful reckoning in the not too distant future. The longer you ignore your financial situation, the worse your stress is likely to get. Facing the issue is the first step towards improving matters and alleviating your stress. Open up to your spouse, your advisor and others who can help you take control of your finances. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can begin to tackle the issue head-on.
- Make a plan. Having a concrete strategy in place, such as a debt repayment plan, can help you feel more positive and in control of your future. I can work with you to assess your goals and put together a step-by-step plan to achieve them. Step one of my six steps to financial freedom is Dominate Debt.
- Have fun. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a nice dinner at home, make room for relaxation and fun. Laughter and friendship are excellent stress-busters. Find low-cost or free ways to let off some steam and enjoy life.
Remember: your finances don’t have to drag down your health. If you address your money worries, you might just find you have a lot more to be positive about than you thought. In fact, talking to someone and taking steps towards financial wellness can lead to a happier and healthier you.
Contact us today and start taking control of your finances for a better tomorrow. Or as I say around here nearly every day, “Take Action Today That Your Future Self Will Thank You For.”