Recent studies have found that money is the leading source of stress for Canadians and that it’s literally making us sick. Financial stress can cause headaches, stomach aches, and even heart attacks.
But it’s the impact on our minds that can be the most damaging. Money may not buy happiness, but it can certainly buy peace of mind.
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•Lack of sleep. We can lose sleep worrying about our finances but a lack of sleep makes us less able to cope with stress—as well as cranky, forgetful and unable to
concentrate. In addition, a long-term lack of quality sleep puts us at risk for serious health issues including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Improving financial and mental health Although we may think there’s no way out of our money problems, there are steps we can take to regain our financial and mental health. For example:
• Don’t hide. It’s easy to feel ashamed, embarrassed or depressed by money difficulties, but remember you’re not alone—almost half of the Canadian population feels stressed about their financial situation.10 So don’t isolate yourself or hide your problems. Let trusted friends and family members know. They’re probably facing similar issues and together you can provide emotional support to each other.
• It is what it is. It doesn’t help to berate yourself, feel guilty or be upset. What’s done is done so accept the situation and instead of rehashing the past, look to the future and to finding solutions. However, it is a good idea to understand how you got into your current situation so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
• Get control. You may think your financial situation is out of control, but it may not be. You do need a plan of action, though.
• Get professional help. Call your bank or Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) and request an appointment with a financial advisor. The picture may not be as grim as you think and a good financial advisor can quickly get you back on track.
• Focus on your physical and mental health. Manage your stress levels by exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, making time for hobbies and pastimes and limiting alcohol consumption. And don’t eliminate all social activities from your budget. Friends help us keep things in perspective and laughter is the best stress reliever.
If your financial woes are causing you to feel severely depressed, get help. Contact your healthcare provider , Skipwith or your Employee and Family Assistance Program.