We would all agree that money won’t buy you happiness but the lack of money and the burden of meeting our family’s financial commitments can certainly produce increased stress and pressure on the family unit,which can reach unhealthy levels resulting in illness.
With the delivery of the Australian Budget on May the 10th, most Australians have taken a hard hit not only on their hip pocket but also on their health outcomes.
Budgetary cuts in many areas have left most families wanting and plunged them further into hardship with even more financial distress this year. With the cost of living having risen an estimated 26% and wages only a mere 8%, do any of our families not feel the pressures of the ever-mounting costs of having a normal and happy life in Australia.
Financial pressures are now unavoidable for all of us.
We are constantly told by our government that we are the lucky country; riding on the wave of the resource boom; hard to believe when BHP, Newcrest and the other miners have never paid for our electricity bills or our child’s school uniform.
Let me know if they have sent you a cheque for any of your bills so far. I don’t think so; the harsh reality is they never will. Our mailbox will never be short of bills that we alone will have to pay for.
The research supports that stress produced as a result of financial burden will take its toll on our health and the family unit in the long run if we don’t take active steps to reduce it.
We have all dealt with stressful situations before but when the stress becomes a constant partner in our family’s affairs it becomes chronic, and you and your family will pay the ultimate price for this.
Here’s what happens to you when financial stress becomes chronic:
Symptoms of financial stress on your health
You are 13 times less likely to sleep at night.
You are 7 times more likely to suffer from anxiety.
You are 7 times more likely to take the stress out on others and your family.
You are 6 times more likely to suffer from depression.
You are 4 times more likely to have digestive problems and gastric ulcers develop.
You are 2 times more likely to have heart problems (heart attacks, strokes, blood pressure problems). [i]
Along with these chronic stress produces immunosuppression which increases your chances of cancer developing.
Self-care becomes difficult
Looking after yourself and your family becomes difficult when you are stressed; many of us will develop unhealthy ways to cope with this increased pressure. Some of us will increase smoking, drinking or even eating which invariably leads to more stress and increased behavioral habits that will compound the bad health outcomes.
Our relationships are also affected when we are under undue stress; maintaining strong relationship ties with our family and friends are essential for our wellbeing and health; these often suffer when we are frustrated and irritated by the ever mounting financial burden in our lives.
Boy oh boy we need to take action to combat this before it’s too late for all of us.
Taking action to fight the financial debt stress response
You will be surprised to know that even the smallest steps taken towards combating the stress of financial burden will make a dramatic difference to your recovery for a better emotional, physical and mental health outcome.
Seven step program: to reducing debt stress and increasing better health
- Reduce your debt: debt is a great source of stress because once you are in debt you start to attract interest. Commit to reducing the debt by creating a budget. Look at what is necessary for your family’s day to day survival and get rid of the luxuries in your life that are not necessary; for example reduce the shopping sprees, the number of time you eat out, stop smoking, reduce your alcohol consumption and put the money toward paying off your credit cards and your mortgag
- Reducing your credit card spending is a good start try to spend less than you earn. Think about each and everyone of your purchases before you make them and decide if you and your family need the item and if you can afford the purchase.
- Lifestyle measures once you have your debts in check,you may be able to reward your self with some help around the house like getting the lawn mowed and general tidy up or even a cleaner each month may be possible; this will give you more time to spend with your family doing things you love together.
- Simplify your life once you start feeling good about yourself and the pressure starts to ease off, you can declutter your life of all the things that don’t really make a difference to you and your family. Make time to clear out your study, your office, your garage and have a garage sale and sell all the things your don’t really need or want. Use the money you make to add more lifestyle to your life and family; a holiday, a weekend trip to spend some quality time reconnecting with each other will be possible and very beneficial to the health of your whole family.
- Exercise is essential; regular exercise increases the neurochemicals (endorphins) in your brain making you happier, more relaxed, less stressed. Exercise boosts your energy and wellbeing levels. Try to fit in at least 5 sessions per week of exercise.
- Healthy eating; stay away from the junk foods, and processed take out. Stick to fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Cook at home and treat yourself to those special dinners out when you deserve them. A healthy diet promotes better health and more energy.
- Relaxation; essential to reduce anxiety. I have found Pilates, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation techniques excellent for reducing stress and boosting the immune system to ward off ill health and disease. Relaxation techniques also promote better sleep and higher energy levels during the course of your day.
Good luck with the bills, don’t let the financial burden get to you.
Get on the 7 step program today to beat the financial stress burden
and protect your health and your families.
[i]AP-AOL Health poll: Debt stress the toll owing money takes on the body.