How's your financial wellness?

Mature couple calculating bills at home. Mature woman wearing spectacles discussing home economics. Senior man worried about financials at home while woman looking the bills.

Are you experiencing financial stress? You’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association  (APA), nearly three-quarters of Americans experience financial stress at least some of the time and nearly a quarter of us experience extreme financial stress. The study also finds unhealthy patterns associated with financial stress, such as excessive time spent watching TV or on the Internet, skipping doctor visits and drinking greater amounts of alcohol.

To combat the potential health effects of financial stress, it’s important to give anxiety a one-two punch.

First, get your financial wellness under control so you’re not as easily stressed by anxiety-inspiring days like Tax Day with these three steps:

  1. Make a budget

Review your spending patterns and identify extravagant purchase habits that can be curbed, like going out to lunch every day. Then create a budget that allows you to still purchase necessities and also build a hefty savings account. Sticking to a budget helps alleviate financial stress and combat bad spending habits.

  1. Create a savings safety net

You may not know what the future holds, but you can ease your anxiety knowing you’ll have a financial safety net when you arrive. The 50/20/30 rule  recommends dividing your monthly budget into three categories: 50 percent for essentials, such as rent and food; 30 percent for lifestyle purchases, such as movie tickets; and 20 percent toward financial priorities, such as paying off debt, contributing to retirement and building savings.

  1. Hire a professional

Depending on your financial situation, you may benefit from working with a financial advisor. Work with a professional to solidify a long-term financial plan and stay on track to achieve your financial goals.

And second, take time to unwind when your finances put you in a frenzy. Here are three tips to de-stress after Tax Day:

  1. Unplug

A common reaction to financial stress is finding a distraction through TV or social media. Avoid hours glued to your electronics by unplugging and embracing an alternative outlet, such as some fresh air, meditation or visiting a friend.

  1. Get creative

Whether it’s applying Feng Shui principles to your living room or writing in a journal, expressing yourself through a creative outlet can help alleviate stress. Look for creative activities that can be accomplished from home, such as dusting off your paint set, or that don’t cost anything, like pursuing photography.

  1. Call a friend

According to the APA’s study, Stress in America: Paying with Our Health , respondents who reported having an emotional support system reported markedly lower stress levels than people without support. When you’re feeling stressed, seek a friend or family member for support.

If your stress is persistent, talking to a health professional about your emotions, financial worries and stress levels may be the right step for you. Consider talking to your doctor or visit a community behavioral health organization, like Jefferson Center for Mental Health , which offers wellness classes that target anxiety, depression, stress and self-coaching. You can also find helpful information on managing your health with mind/body activities on the blog.

Author: Bright Health

April 11, 2017