According to AMP’s Financial Wellness report, 2 in 5 Australians experience financial stress at some point in their lives. That means that right now, at least 2.44 million people in Austra
lia are suffering from financial stress, which can impact on their relationships, their work productivity, and most importantly, their health.
While stress is a normal part of being human and can help to keep you vigilant and motivated, too much can be physically debilitating. Stress can cause headaches, back pain, upset stomach, high blood pressure and chest pain, while disrupting our sleep and sex lives. Over time it can lead to more chronic issues such as depression, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Often we don’t realise how vital our health is until it begins to deteriorate. Poor physical and mental health not only affect our quality of life – they’re expensive, too! Which leads to more financial stress. So investing in your financial wellness is one of the most important decisions you can make.
But why is it that our finances cause so much stress in the first place?
It’s important to understand that money is never just about money. It is how we provide a safe and comfortable life for ourselves and our families, and is often tied closely to our self-worth. Our thoughts, beliefs and behaviour patterns about money are deeply rooted in our subconscious mind, meaning it can cause us to automatically feel a range of (often negative) emotions without even knowing why.
Some other reasons we may experience financial stress include:
- We inherit it. If you grew up in a family that was always fighting about money, then no wonder it’s painful to think about your finances!
- Money seems complicated; we don’t understand it, so we ignore it. We don’t open our super statements, we don’t budget, and we don’t talk about it with our loved ones… and so problems are never addressed.
- We feel guilty and embarrassed about our situation, making us less likely to seek help.
- We set unrealistic goals for ourselves and then when we don’t achieve them, we beat ourselves up about it causing more negative feelings and leading to more stress.
It’s easy to see why so many people become affected by financial stress, but for the sake of your physical health, it is vital to address the problem. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be hard, or scary! Here are some tips for getting back on track to financial wellness.
- Always prioritise your health
Don’t let your financial situation get in the way of doing things to look after your body and your mental health. Look for creative solutions to eat nutritious food, keep your body moving and stay connected to your friends and the community. Don’t skip appointments with your health practitioners.
- Tune into your body
It’s almost impossible to make rational decisions when your body is in fight or flight mode. Notice when you start to feel stressed or anxious, and use techniques such as breathing, meditation or going for a walk to calm and clear your mind before trying to solve a problem.
- Seek to understand yourself and your behaviour
Our thoughts, beliefs and behaviour patterns started forming in our subconscious mind from early childhood. Learning more about why we think and behave the way we do can make it so much easier to understand our current situation. You can learn more about your money personality and the archetypes driving your decision making here with my money mindset quiz.
- Start small
Instead of trying to fix everything and once and becoming overwhelmed, try to tackle just one small piece of the puzzle at a time. When dealing with debt, focus on paying down one thing at a time, starting with the most expensive.
- Make it fun.
You are more likely to follow through on something if you actually enjoy it, and have the opportunity to draw on your sense of creativity and fun. Can you start a 30 day savings challenge with a friend? Or perhaps have a competition with your partner on who can get the most home cooked meals out of $50? The possibilities are endless, and you’re limited only by your own resourcefulness!
- Talk about it.
Money can be a bit of a cultural taboo, making it uncomfortable to talk about with our friends and loved ones. But the truth is, if we want to learn, support each other, come up with creative solutions and work together on a plan, we need to communicate with openness and honesty.
- Get help
Sometimes talking to a professional is the quickest way to shortcut through your roadblocks and transform your stress. Contact me here if you’d like help to formulate (and follow through on!) your plan for building your financial wellness!