Monday, November 14, 2011

Health Care and Financial Stress

Going through tough economic times can cause stress, not only financially but also emotionally and physically. The physical stress on your body may even cause serious health issues and medical problems if not handled in an effective manner. When you are short on financial resources, and you have bills that are due or expenses that must be met, the toll on your physical well-being can be enormous, and painful at times.

According to Symptoms Of Stress.com, what you don’t always realize is that daily stress, including money stress, can cause a seriously negative effect on the way your body functions. Diseases including cancer, heart disease, and stroke are frequently brought on earlier and more seriously because of frequent or chronic stress. And, stress causes several physiological effects in the body. It can increase your heart rate and your blood pressure. This, of course, leads to stress on your heart – the body’s hardest working muscle. Stress can also alter hormone levels in your body.

Financial stress is linked to health problems like depression and sleep problems, according to this website: http://stress.about.com/od/financialstress/a/financialstress.htm. With the rising cost of gas and food, the mortgage crisis, and the new bank troubles we're seeing, many Americans are feeling the crunch of financial stress. Anxiety over money can negatively affect health in several ways:

• Unhealthy Coping Behaviors: People experiencing financial stress can be more likely to numb their anxiety by drinking, smoking, overeating and practicing other unhealthy coping behaviors. This in turn leads to more stress.

• Less Money For Self-Care: With less money in the budget, people who are already under financial stress tend to cut corners in areas like health care to pay for basic necessities like food. Small problems can go unchecked and turn into larger problems. This also leads to more stress.

• Lost Sleep: When under financial stress, people often experience trouble sleeping, which can add up to a sleep defecit, impairing immune functioning and cognitive abilities, causing additional moodiness, and more.

• Unhealthy Emotions: Credit card debt can cause unhealthy emotions that can take a toll on health. People can experience anxiety, frustration and a sense of hopelessness as the debt piles up and increasing amounts of money are needed just to pay the interest. This causes additional stress, which compounds with the stress from poor coping and self-neglect, to become a menacing amount of stress.

The hormone cortisol (our stress hormone) is increased when you are under stress, according to Symptoms of Stress, org. Increased levels of cortisol typically cause such problems as adrenal fatigue, increased weight gain, most often, around the midsection of the body–which puts physical stress on your heart and may cause uncomfortable joint pain. Stress can also lead to sleep deprivation. Even those who have never experienced any sort of difficulty sleeping may find themselves tossing and turning all night long due to anxiety and stress. To make matters worse, when you finally do fall asleep, you may have difficulty staying asleep. When your body is sleep deprived, you’re more like to gain weight, have difficulty concentrating, and hamper your ability to successfully complete daily tasks such as driving and performing duties at work.

And while the physical symptoms of frequent stress troubling, stress is even more noticeable when it comes to your mental and social health. Unresolved stress will almost always eventually lead to problems such as anxiety and depression which, in turn, makes it very difficult to manage the stress at hand. As you can see, unresolved stress can snowball and affect every area of our lives quite quickly.

Money stress may also interfere with your friendships and family relationships. This is usually a result of irritability that causes discord in your relationships. Unfortunately, most of us tend to take things out on those closest to us—probably because we know (or hope) they will love us through it. But stress may also cause you to withdraw to yourself and become isolated—which usually leads to anxiety and depression.

According to InsuranceQuotes.org, the state of the economy has left many people and families worried about money. From paying bills to finding a job to coping with high medical costs, it can be hard to think of anything else when financial woes come your way. It's no secret that stress from finances can play a big role in changing your mental state, causing mood swings or even depression, but many may not realize what a marked effect it can also have on your physical well-being. Stress, whether from finances or other conflicts in your life, can do a number on your overall health, often in ways that you may not even realize are related to stress. If you're going through a stressful financial situation, make sure you take good care of your body, take time to relax, and get help to make sure these harmful physical effects don't take a toll on you.

Wellness takes place when you are physically, mentally, and socially healthy. And, according to Symptoms of Stress.org, when any one of those areas is affected, your overall health decreases. Money stress is one of those problems that can affect all three types of health and really put you at risk for major problems. If money stress is affecting your health, don’t ignore it. The longer you let it go, the bigger your health problems will become.

It’s no wonder financial stress is one of the leading causes of stress in Americans, according to About.com/Stress management. Here are some resources to help you handle your financial situation and feel more in control of your life, reducing stress and helping you build toward a more secure future:

--Find Out Where You Stand: Do you have a major money problem, or is your situation relatively under control? Ask yourself these questions and find out how much help you need to get on the right track.

--Learn About Implementing Systems That Can Help: Find out why budgets are important to your financial success, and learn how to create one that will fit well with your lifestyle.

--Work Toward Getting Out of Debt: Getting out from under credit card debt is much easier with a plan. Here’s a three-step approach that can help you.

--Learn How to Save Money and Cut Costs: Keeping a budget and working toward reducing what you owe is easier if you have more money. Here are some ways to hold onto more of yours!

As you work on improving your financial situation, you can reduce stress by practicing stress-reducing techniques and making other changes to create a low-stress lifestyle. By following the advice provided in the above links and making these lifestyle changes, the burden of financial stress can soon be a thing of the past!

Finally, consider being a better steward of your resources. Spending money you don't have is a serious problem. Not managing your financial accountability well definitely gets you into hot water--not only with your creditors, but also with your family and friends. Use wisdom when you consider a purchase. If you can live without that object of desire, then don't buy it. If you are able to function financially in your current lifestyle, then don't live like you'll never run out of funds. Establish a "rainy day fund", and keep your greed in check. Remember, you can lose it often faster than you can make it.

Until next time.

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