It's a fact: encountering financial problems is a part of life. Due in part to the United States' slow recovery from the global recession of 2009, financial problems are on the mind of more Americans than ever. In fact, a 2012 Gallup poll revealed that fewer Americans than even feel they have enough money to live comfortably.
It's also a given that with financial problems comes stress. You would be surprised to see how severe debt related issues can put immense pressure on a person's health and general well being. Researchers have linked high stress levels to innumerable adverse health effects. Here are a few of them:
Stress kills brain cells and prevents them from regenerating, which can lead to depression.
- It can increase risk of heart problems or arthritis later in life.
- Stress may increase the likelihood of stroke.
- Feeling anxious or overwhelmed makes you 27% more likely to suffer a heart attack.
- Stress can even affect the genes you pass on to future generations.
These and other health risks are amplified when people dealing with stress turn to drugs and alcohol to try and solve their problems. Numerous medical studies have defined the link between stress and drug addiction, and many of them have found that drug use only succeeds in exacerbating stress and the effects it has on one's health.
Fortunately, there are a number of safer methods for dealing with the stresses brought upon by financial situations (or otherwise) that don't involve numbing yourself through the use of drugs and alcohol.
The following stress relief action plan is by no means the only way to help alleviate the stress, but rather represents a starting point. Similarly, the beneficial effects of specific stress relieving techniques can vary from person to person. Trial and error is the best way to discover what methods work better for you than others.
This set of techniques is targeted at those who are suffering from stress due to financial difficulties. People who find it hard to make both ends meet, or such that are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy are susceptible to high stress levels that would further upset their everyday life and would significantly impair their ability to handle the challenges they face.
The main thing to understand is that stress comes from a variety of sources that we need to learn to distinguish properly.
Identify the source(s) of your stress
This may seem like a no-brainer, and for most people, the sources of their stress may be obvious. But for others, it may be a bit more complicated.
Ask yourself if a specific financial problem you're going through is the only cause of stress, or if it's coming from a variety of sources. If it's the latter, you may need to address multiple problems in a way that makes sense for each.
Sources of stress can come in various forms and could add up to the pressure that the accumulating debt exerts on you. It could be triggered by meeting conflicting or energy draining people, by spending time in unwelcoming taunting environment, by dealing with situations or tasks that frustrate or simply overwhelm you.
Think long and hard about the things that make you stress out on a regular basis and list them out. In terms of your current financial difficulties for instance you could start by assessing the budgeting techniques that you have adopted. How are those working out for you? Is there a way that you could improve your frugality? could you minimize your spending? Do you indulge in impulse shopping? Are you incapable of controlling your credit card debt while it keeps on accumulating dreadfully? Ask the right questions and be honest with yourself. If you are to face those skeletons in your closet you might as well go all the way.
If possible, avoid unnecessary stressors
If you do find that there are stressors outside of the financial burdens you carry, try to eliminate them from your life. Here's how:
- Avoid people that you know are exacerbating your stress.
- Eliminate activities from your daily routine that you know stress you out (change your commute to work, eat lunch in a quiet place instead of a busy restaurant, etc.)
- Focus on completing tasks that are actually necessary. If something can be put off with little consequence, it can wait. And don't be afraid to say "no" if you're asked to do something you think will stress you out.
Set realistic goals that can be mapped to dates and times
Procrastination can be a real problem when it comes to stress management. When you have something that needs to be done to alleviate the stress coming from financial problems, putting it off can only make things worse.
Once you've identified your financial stressor and eliminated outside sources of stress, map out a strategy and timeline for solving the problem and hold yourself accountable to it.
Using a free project management tool like Asana or Trello, which allows you to create projects with tasks and deadlines, might be helpful in this regard.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Perhaps the easiest way to alleviate the mental and physical problems that come with stress is to keep your body in sound physical condition.
Eating a healthy diet low on sugar and caffeine will help stabilize your mood and energy level. Don't skip breakfast, avoid snacking and be sure to eat balanced meals.
Getting proper sleep also plays a huge role in your ability to deal with stressful situations. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, but this varies on a person-by-person basis.
Regardless of your level of physical fitness, combating depression relies heavily on your ability to stay active and engaged physically. Whether it is a walk around the block, an hour in the gym, or 15 minutes of sit ups before bed, exercise regulates the endorphins responsible for maintaining your day-to-day mood and attitude.
And as we've already mentioned before, avoid drugs, tobacco and alcohol at all costs. They can only hurt you when you're dealing with stress.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
By explaining the problems to fresh ears, you may find new solutions that you wouldn't have otherwise been aware of. Communicating your problems with others can also provide you with a more objective outlook on the state of the situation. If you feel wrapped up in the problem emotionally, it may be useful to let someone rationalize the issue for you.
Depending on the severity of your financial situation, it also may be in your best interest to consult a bankruptcy attorney. If debt collectors are after you, repossession or foreclosure action is filed against you or your credit card bills have become unmanageable, bankruptcy is an option you should seriously consider. Sometimes a healthy diet and the attempt to keep a positive state of mind won't be enough to relief your financial obligation, you just have to admit to yourself that you need help and professional assistance to overcome this particular challenge that life presents you with.
Just rest and relax
Once you have already found a way to deal with the factors that cause the high level of stress, you should try to elaborate a damage control system to relieve the current tension that you're experiencing. This final stage is best associated with allowing yourself to take a break from your daily routines. And if you are not up for taking on a road trip or a vacation to a calm faraway destination (or your finances do not allow it), you might turn to other equally beneficial approach: devote yourself to thorough relaxation. Whether you'd take the afternoon off and go for a walk in the park, or you'd just rest with a book and a hot tea at home, it is all up to you. Turn your phone off, lower the lights, have a bubbly bath and enjoy a peaceful day off. You could even start practicing meditation - it would only take you a few minutes a day, but the results would be more than rewarding. The therapeutic exercises will teach you not to focus so much on the negative emotions and will help you regain that peace of mind that you've so eagerly longed for.
Lane Fitzgerald is an experienced Beloit, Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney. If you need assistance managing your bankruptcy, contact the Fitzgerald Law Firm today.
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