“Money often costs too much”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
R U OK day has recently come and gone and it got me to thinking about the effect of money stress on mental health. A recent study of over 1000 Australians showed that over 66% of people suffering financial stress said money worries had directly contributed to their feelings of fear, anxiety and depression.*
Interestingly money can cause stress in a number of ways:
· Not having enough of it to pay the bills and get by day to day is just plain hard. That feeling of overwhelm and being out of control causes high levels of constant stress.
· Getting by on a day to day basis but never feeling like you’re getting ahead. It’s exhausting juggling the budget to get through until the next pay day knowing that you are one unexpected bill away from real financial pain.
· Job loss meaning you can’t pay the mortgage, or the rent…
· Sometimes it’s the reverse… feeling crappy and going shopping to “cheer yourself up” only to feel guilty when you get home.
· For some people they have more than enough money – outwardly successful (materially) but inwardly empty.
· Divorce or relationship breakups provide the double hit of heartbreak and often financial stress as you divide the assets and sort out your combined finances.
· The relentless pursuit of money creates another kind of stress: the constant comparing yourself to others may well cause your self esteem to take a hit. Or, if you’re spending a lot of time away from home working, this might cause problems with your family who would prefer to spend time with you.
· The belief that how much money you make or accumulate is somehow a measure of how successful or important you are. The problem with this is there will always be someone who has more; the pursuit is never ending.
Money and our emotions are tightly linked. Financial stress often comes with a high level of guilt, shame and embarrassment, which people tend not to talk about, further compounding their feelings of incompetence. The end result is often depression, anxiety, physical symptoms (lack of sleep or lower immunity), alcohol or drug use and damaged relationships.
Whilst there are practical strategies to deal with money troubles (budgeting, planning, financial counselling), for many people this doesn’t consider how they got to this distressing situation in the first place.
Ongoing money blocks often cause the money/stress cycle to continue. You might get on top of your current financial situation but unless you address the underlying problem it will invariably come around again. Working out when and how you developed your negative money mindset is a strong starting point for developing strategies to move toward a healthy relationship with money.
A Certified Money Coach can help you work on overcoming limiting beliefs around money and develop some practical strategies to help you feel more in control.
Acknowledging the stress and talking about it to someone you trust is the key. Whether you see a professional or talk to a friend, remember you don’t have to go through this alone.
*Core Data on behalf of Financial Mindfulness