Financial Stress: Bad for the 3 H’s
There was a time in life that I would have considered myself too proud to cut corners in order to save a dollar. To me, showing a sense of frugality made me feel like I fit in lower on the economic ladder. This was long before the days of NerdWallet’s Etsy coupon codes, eBay, and extreme couponing. Those days are long gone, as I have matured and have seen the error of my ways.
Back in those days I found myself stretched to the max and the result was problems that went beyond my lack of savings. This way of life caused anxiety that seemed to have a domino effect on my sheer existence. I definitely believe that the best things in life are free, but this doesn’t change the fact that in order to live a productive life we need a sense of stability. Without financial security you will find all of the H’s – head, heart and health – will suffer.
The strain on your wallet can cause you to feel anxiety, as stated before. This type of stress can cause depression that is often difficult to come back from. Dr. Bruce S. McEwen broke it down for us stating that “Hyperactivity of the stress response results in changes over time in the circuitry of the brain.”
Your body sends signals to your brain cells, then the cells that are attacked with stress signals eventually shrink and cut the connection to other brains cells. This ends up having an effect on your emotions, memory and problem solving skills.
People who are struggling within themselves tend to withdraw from those closest to them. This will leave your most primal necessities unmet. In situations where you do have an outing with a friend or family member, you will often feel consumed by your anxiety and miss out on the enjoyment of the activity.
At one point missing regular family or friend functions was the norm for me. I wanted to see them, but the thought of being around people was too much to handle. In the end, that only made me feel worse and resulted in not only my own heartache, but that of those whom I had distanced myself from.
Poor health is one of the biggest indicators of stress. It is known that your cholesterol and blood pressure are severely affected during these times, but it goes way beyond those two aspects. The biggest thing that we see in periods of depression or when our stress levels are at their highest is a weaker immune system. Basically, our immune system is built to protect us from illnesses, however under high stress that same system backfires.
While there are many situations that could cause unwanted stress or depression in your life, there are things that you can change that will allow you to be better equipped to handle the situations you don’t have control over.
The biggest thing we do have some control over is our spending habits. No matter what your salary, it is important that you live below your means. Look for the best deals and don’t impulse shop. This may sound simple, but in reality it takes more planning. Instead of going out in search of the perfect bedside lamp for your daughter at Pottery Barn, first look for a Pottery Barn Kids promo code to save a bit of money on the purchase. Just about anything you can buy online should have a promo code somewhere if you look hard enough. I like NerdWallet, but with a quick Google search, you can find coupons on just about everything.
Over the last several years I have become what many may call “cheap.” Now I wear that title proudly- instead of bringing me down a step on the ladder, I have actually climbed about three. It seems that once you put your pride aside and focus on the big picture you allow yourself to heal. Taking the first step is possibly the most important. Once I acknowledged that I wasn’t as secure as I led people to believe, everything else started to fall into place. Now my stress levels are down and my finances are up. Win-win.