Manage Your Finances

How Your Financial Health Can Impact Your Physical and Mental Health

Money can’t buy happiness. According to the Beatles, it can’t even buy love. And, while you don’t need a small fortune to maintain your well-being, financial health is more impactful to your physical and mental health than many people realize. 

Financial stress, for example, is different from “regular” stress. It can cause a slew of negative emotions and manifest itself in different negative ways. Unfortunately, many of those manifestations can become chronic. 

Unfortunately, many Americans struggle with their financial health. According to, American household debt hit a record high of $14.6 trillion last year. Whether you’re dealing with student loan debt, medical bills, or a mortgage that sometimes feels suffocating, financial worries can cause big problems when it comes to your overall health. 

So, what can you do? 

First, we’ll dig deeper into how your financial health can impact your physical and mental health. The more educated you are about how the three are linked, the more serious you’ll be about making the right changes to your financial situation. We’ll also cover a few tips that can help you to improve your financial health along the way. 

The Stress of Financial Dependence

Financial independence is a problem for many Americans. So much so, that one survey discovered over 48% of American adults get help with their bills from their parents. While that might seem to ease the financial stress on the surface, it can actually end up creating more. No one wants to rely on other people for money – even when it’s your own family. Getting regular financial help from family members or friends can cause you to feel guilty, but it can also reduce your self-esteem, or make you feel like a failure. 

Obviously, those emotions increase stress levels. 

But, why is financial stress different from other types of stress? One reason is the physical manifestations it can cause. According to Purdue University:

“High levels of financial stress manifest through physical symptoms like sleep loss, anxiety, headaches/migraines, compromised immune systems, digestive issues, high blood pressure, muscle tension, heart arrhythmia, depression and a feeling of being overwhelmed.”

Additionally, financial stress can keep you from getting the sleep your body needs. If you’re anxious about the state of your financial situation, it can cause you to toss and turn at night as your thoughts won’t seem to quiet down. 

Unfortunately, a lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, making it even easier for the physical manifestations of financial stress to harm your body. 

Keep in mind that everyone experiences stress. Even a little financial stress isn’t uncommon or abnormal. But, when it becomes so extreme that it starts to harm your life or reduce your overall quality of life, it’s a problem that could be affecting your health more than you realize. 

Money and Your Mental Health

Stress and your mental wellness are very closely linked. Being overly stressed for an extended period of time can lead to issues like

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Mood swings

Unfortunately, if you’re in an unhealthy financial situation, you might also end up putting yourself in a vicious cycle. The stress of unstable finances can cause you to partake in compulsive behaviors. You might even start making purchases you can’t afford to feel better for a short time. 

Those behaviors, however, can end up driving you deeper in debt. That’s a scary place to be, but it’s also even more damaging to your mental health. Research from the University of Southampton in the U.K. found that fewer than 9% of people without mental health problems were in debt. 

What does that mean? Debt and mental health issues are closely linked. Those issues include: 

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drug dependence
  • Neurotic disorders
  • Psychotic disorders

Even thoughts of self-harm and suicide are greater when you’re in debt. It can increase feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, causing you to act out even further. Unfortunately, if you aren’t able to treat those mental conditions, some of your behaviors could be irreversibly damaging. 

How Can You Improve Your Financial Health? 

Take a deep breath. 

Learning about the connection between your financial, physical, and mental health isn’t meant to overwhelm or frighten you. The more you know about the connection, the more you can do to fight back against it. 

You might be wondering what you could possibly do to better your financial situation, especially if you’ve been struggling for a while. No, you don’t necessarily have to get a second or third job or sell your belongings. You probably don’t have to change much about your life at all. 

But, there are small things you can do to improve your financial health that can make a big difference. Try some of the following tips to get started: 

  • Establish a monthly budget
  • Pay off old debts using a method that works for you
  • Put items on “hold” to reduce overspending
  • Automate your savings
  • Build up an emergency fund
  • Check your credit score at least once a year

All of these tips should be customized to fit your needs and lifestyle. You might be surprised by how easy it is to change things right away. For example, when looking at your monthly budget, you might see things like subscription services or entertainment features that you rarely use. Getting rid of them is easy and can end up saving you a lot each month. Automating your savings is a great way to save money without having to think about it. 

Boosting your financial health is easier than you might think!

Once you feel like you’re in a good place with your financial wellness, you can go into “maintenance” mode. Things like refreshing your budget, looking through your bank accounts, and polishing up your credit score can be done annually. Doing so will constantly keep you in the know when it comes to your financial situation, so you can make smaller adjustments as needed. 

Being able to manage your finances and build up your financial health can do great things for your stress levels. As a result, your mental and physical health can improve, too. 

If you start to notice yourself experiencing health issues, don’t take it lightly. Clearly, you’re not alone if you’re struggling with debt or financial independence. But, don’t let your financial situation keep you from getting the mental or physical help you need from healthcare professionals.

Maintaining your general wellness will make it easier to get into a sound financial state. Although things might seem difficult now, making your physical and mental health a priority will help you to achieve your financial goals for the future. 

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