Reducing the Health Impact of Financial Stress

You can’t ignore your finances completely, but you can decrease the control they have over you.
Amanda Carrozza
Published: November 14, 2017
It likely comes as no surprise that many people are riddled with stress over their finances. Today’s veterinarians have lots of financial issues to worry about — whether you’re fresh out of school and shouldering significant debt or trying to open or run a successful business. But have you ever considered how constantly fretting about money could be affecting your health?

According to the American Psychology Association’s 2017 Stress in America report, 62 percent of Americans describe finances as one of their most common sources of stress. And there is a growing link between increased levels of stress and possible health impacts.

In fact, a recent study presented at the 18th Annual Congress of the South African Heart Association found that both work stress and financial stress were associated with a higher risk for acute myocardial infarction. The study’s lead author, Denishan Govender, MB, BCh, associate lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, noted that patients with significant financial stress had a 13-fold higher odds of having a heart attack.
 
To get ahead of stress-related health issues, it’s important to properly identify the areas of your finances causing the most anxiety and take the necessary steps to remedy them.

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Set a Financial Goal
Take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write out a list of financial goals you hope to achieve in the next few months or over the course of the year. Select one of your goals and then map out the steps you need to take in order to achieve it. Creating a checklist that you can refer back to provides a visual aid in the process — and there are few things as gratifying a crossing out a completed task.

Take, for example, your monthly budget. Do you really know where your paycheck goes each month? Formulate a plan to review your bills and expenses so you’re more aware of how the bulk of your money is being spent. This also provides an opportunity to identify areas where you can reduce spending if needed.

Ask for Help
You don’t have to take on the burden of finances entirely on your own. Whether it’s a spouse, business partner, family member or hired adviser, relinquish some of the financial control — and associated worry — to trusted people in your life. Talking through your current dilemmas can help to pinpoint areas you should tackle first and recognize which stressors are not as dire as you had previously believed.

Seeking the help of a professional can further assist you in sorting out the current state of your finances and creating a clear plan for the future. In fact, when individuals were guided through the decision-making process, they were 21 percent less stressed than when they were unassisted. This is according to the 2017 Brain on Finance Study released by Northwestern Mutual.

Don’t Let Finances Take Precedence Over Your Health
Also noted in American Psychology Association’s annual report was that nearly one in five Americans admit they’ve considered skipping or skipped going to the doctor because of financial concerns. Given the new links between elevated levels of stress due to finances and how they may increase your chances of suffering a heart attack, forgoing medical treatment could put you at even higher risk.

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