For some, the link between our finances and wellbeing is a tenuous one, but there are plenty of statistics that support the connection.
For example, an estimated 39% of UK adults (that’s 20.3 million) don’t feel confident managing their money. What’s more, a further 11.5 million have less than £100 in savings, creating a tremendous sense of angst and concern in households nationwide.
But to what extent do finances affect your physical and mental wellbeing, and what can you do to safeguard yourself in this instance?
How Do Finances Affect Your Physical Health?
The various impacts of finances on your physical and mental health have been the topic of numerous studies, with one revealing that 94% of employees worry about their money and poor financial wellbeing.
This can create an overriding sense of stress amongst employees, which can cause them to be unsettled, anxious and incur a range of subsequent symptoms.
Conversely, good financial health can alleviate such worries, providing a genuine sense of security and making it easier for households to manage their money effectively.
If we look at the potential physical health symptoms of poor financial wellbeing, we begin to understand how high and sustained levels of stress can cause a fight-or-flight reaction in the body. This sees the release of adrenaline and cortisol, with these hormones having the potential to suppress immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems.
When sustained, this can stop such systems from working normally, which is why employees with high financial stress are twice as likely to report poor physical health overall.
They’re also four times more likely to complain of headaches, depression and other ailments, with so-called “debt stress” having increased throughout the depths of the recent financial crisis.
What are the Mental Health Impacts of Financial Stress?
The most obvious mental impact of financial stress is depression, with one study finding that 23% of those with debt reported having severe depression compared to just 4% without.
Another piece of research discovered a 14% increase in depression symptoms with every 10% increase in personal debt levels.
Unsurprisingly, 29% of adults with financial stress also experience anxiety (compared to just 4% without). Such feelings can be a catalyst for a much unhealthier lifestyle overall, with 55% of adults in lower-income households often looking to handle stress through sedentary or unhealthy habits such as watching TV, drinking alcohol and stress (or comfort) eating.
How to Cope With These Problems
As ever, awareness is key when dealing with financial issues and their various effects, as you need to understand the source of your stress and how it’s impacting on your physical or mental wellbeing.
The next step is to be proactive and look at practical ways in which you can alleviate your underlying worries, initially by liaising with a skilled and knowledgeable financial advisor.
This can enable you to manage and optimise your finances in the short and longer-term, creating a far greater sense of security and confidence going forward.
You can also access a host of free financial wellbeing courses online, which are capable of teaching the habits that are key to managing your money so effectively over time.