We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness,” and while that’s a veracious statement, so is the phrase “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Simply put, we should not use the thickness of our wallets as a measure of our happiness. Instead, we should improve our literacy and make sound decisions regarding the money we do have. In a recent CreditWise survey, 73% of Americans cite finances as being a major cause of stress. Due to May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Foster Financials’ goal is to inform readers of the positive impact that financial planning can have on mental health.
Stress can be caused by many different life events that happen unexpectedly, such as losing a loved one, divorce, work, and of course, finances. When the body experiences stress, a hormone called cortisol starts to increase which can heavily affect organ systems, including the brain.
The feeling of stress can make people feel irritable, aggressive, unable to concentrate, exhausted, and sad. If left untreated, it can progress into other medical illnesses like depression. Seeking the guidance of a medical professional is the best way to cope with stress and other mental health issues. Additionally, there are many resources to turn to during difficult times. Here are everyday steps we can take to help with stress:
Regularly exercise. Running, Pilates, or even walking 15 minutes a day has a significant impact on improving mental health.
Practice breathing exercises. This will help calm and balance the nervous system.
Maintain healthy relationships. This will leave us feeling empowered and others’ positivity will reaffirm our self-worth.
Get enough sleep. This will ensure the proper balance of cortisol levels.
Laugh more. Being around friends and doing activities that bring joy are uplifting experiences.
There are many components when it comes to managing finances and the impact it has on mental health. Simply discussing finances can be an intimidating and overwhelming topic. Financial terms can become complicated, adding to the pressure of needing to have everything figured out. It can also be especially stressful for lower-income families or people faced with unexpected medical bills.
To make matters worse, when put in stressful situations, people often turn to unhealthy lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to get out of this vicious cycle.
A large misconception about having a financial plan or planner is that only wealthy people have them. The truth is, people work hard for their money and deserve to get the most out of it, no matter their income level. Whether it’s $50 or $50,000, financial planning will provide transparency, accountability, and transform bank accounts.
We are all guilty of making impulsive purchases here and there. It’s when we start to really regret and be hard on ourselves that it starts to affect our stress levels. Creating a budget maps everything out so we can become familiar with our spending habits. This will help regain control which alleviates stress about the unknown.
Achieving a goal, especially one that takes a lot of patience and dedication, is a wonderful feeling. Having structure and set goals brings a sense of pride and self-worth and will influence other aspects of our lives. Remember to start small, and every time a new goal is reached, aim higher. This can be work-related goals such as sitting down with management to discuss a salary increase or paying off a credit card.
After an understanding of day-to-day expenses and goals, it’s crucial to have a savings plan in place. Set up your bank account to automatically transfer a certain amount of money each month. Sometimes opening another account—one that you don’t regularly access—will give you an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” attitude. Regularly saving will also provide a safety net for unexpected expenses.
We’ve covered how financial planning can improve mental health but it’s also important to note that mental health can also be the reason money issues arise. Needless to say, it’s a tough disorder to navigate, and speaking with a health professional is the first step to overcoming this hardship. Obtaining professional help with finances will help restore your livelihood and be the light at the end of the tunnel.
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