Living in a consumer society comes with its benefits. We are no longer required to grow our own food in order to survive; we simply visit the grocery store. We have cars to transport us, houses that are ready to move into, and medical assistance at our beck and call. Goods and services that were unavailable only a century (or decades) ago are now at our fingertips. Unfortunately, they all come with a price tag. The downside of living in an era in which barter is no longer viable is that everything costs money, which means you have to have money in order to survive. You are beholden to a system of earning and spending that doesn’t always equate to the reality of a situation, especially when a recession hits and millions of people find themselves without jobs, or any way to meet their most basic needs (food, shelter, etc.). And while financial hardships have increased the stress level of many people in these troubling times, they may not be the worst of your worries. The additional stresses of financial burden can have serious implications for your overall health, so there are a few things you need to know before you declare your symptoms unworthy of attention.
For starters, stress is not well understood by most people. Sure, it makes you irritable, and you may have trouble sleeping, but what’s the big deal? In truth, stress can pose all kinds of dangers when it comes to your physical and mental health, from the merely annoying to the deadly serious. Common symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, depression, irritability, and resultant difficulties like reduced immune functions (colds, etc.), confusion, weight gain or loss, and relationship problems. But you may also experience more severe side effects such as panic attacks, hypertension, ulcers, migraines, memory loss, and in extreme cases, heart attack or stroke. And these are just a few of the possible outcomes of not dealing with your stress. Of course, you might not encounter any of these symptoms, or you may have other side effects, but the long and short of it is that stress affects you in ways you can’t predict.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce or eliminate stress brought on by financial hardships. The best solution is to remove your financial stressors if you can. This could mean finding a better job (which is not necessarily in your control), adopting an alternative form of earning (freelancing, starting a home-based business), changing your living situation to better live within your means (move into a smaller space, take on roommates), consolidating debt, or even declaring bankruptcy. Whatever you can do to remove yourself from a stressful situation should help to solve your stress issues.
However, if none of these options appeals to you, or you are simply stuck for the moment, then you are going to have to find other ways to reduce your stress. This could be as simple as engaging in physical activity, employing meditation techniques, or finding free (or inexpensive) mental health aid through your local social services. Chances are what works for one person may not work for another, but you are going to have to try to find a way to cope with your financial stress, or else you risk facing far worse problems in terms of your overall health.