Health care costs have been rising for years. The issue is one that concerns most people and is an area of concern when it comes to voters making political decisions. We’re concerned about how much it costs to be healthy; however, could being financially unhealthy be making us sick as well?
The evidence suggests that it’s true. An American Psychological Association study showed that financial stress reduces life expectancy.1 Financial stress can cause a range of symptoms, from migraine headaches to clogged arteries.
"The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man! Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
Real Problems Cause Real Problems
So then, being worried about our financial state can cause us physical harm. It is also true that experiencing financial distress can cause poor health. A study from the Economics Policy Institute showed that the richer we are, the healthier we are.2 Men with a higher income simply live longer.
People with a lower income are more likely to suffer various maladies, similar to those caused by financial stress. This is often because of a lack of access to adequate health care, as one survey of health care statistics indicates.3 Also, people with less disposable income may be less likely to make regular visits to a doctor or dentist, eat a healthy diet or have the time to regularly exercise. All of these things can lead to poor overall health.
Financial stress also impacts those with relatively higher incomes as well. This happens because they are often not disciplined and develop the unhealthy habit of spending more than they make. This leads to excessive debt, which results in stress and worry, which can significantly impact your health regardless of how much or little money you make or have.
Poor Coping Mechanisms Make Things Worse
Poor or not, worrying about finances can lead us to attempt to cope with the stress. We often go for the easiest method of relief, such as:
- Sitting in front of a TV or computer screen for hours - living a sedentary lifestyle
- Binge eating
- Drinking alcohol in excess
- Maladaptive behavior in our interpersonal relationships
- Lacking proper sleep
- Isolation - depression
As you might guess, these behaviors can have negative consequences for our physical and mental health. We can gain excess weight, experience poor circulation, lack important nutrients and exacerbate stresses by having conflicts with family members, colleagues and others.
Working Your Way Out
So then, financial stress can affect our health. The easy answer it seems would be to remove the financial stress. Of course, it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes we have to persevere through rough times while finding healthy strategies for dealing with the physiological and psychological aspects.
One way, perhaps a little painful for those going through a rough patch, would be to take stock of where you are and make a plan with action steps to get out of it. Perhaps,
- Make a budget
- Study and attend seminars or classes to increase financial literacy
- Talk with family members who may have experienced similar situations
- Look for ways to increase income without increasing stress, like turning a hobby into a side hustle.
- Get help from family or friends if possible
- Talk with a reputable financial advisor
You can also engage in healthier activities to act as a buffer between your financial stress and your health.
- Start an exercise plan
- Get a healthy diet
- Spend time in mediation and/or prayer
- Spend more time with family or friends instead of sitting alone weighed down with worry
- Visit a doctor if you are feeling poorly, don’t wait for something serious to go wrong
It’s clear that financial stress can negatively affect our health. However, it doesn’t have to. While you work your way out of financial trouble, take time to apply some self-care for your health care.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.