Has your eye been twitching? Have you been suffering from chronic anxiety, depression and insomnia?

If you have, and you’re not sure why, it’s definitely time to take a step back and figure out what your body is trying to tell you. It could be that your financial stresses are starting to catch up to you. In the last few years, more and more Americans have been living under a suffocating cloud of debt and money issues, so it’s no wonder that stress is becoming more prevalent in society.

Photo: drp

Work and financial concerns are two of the biggest causes of stress for most Americans. Another major factor is stress from relationships, but as anyone can attest to, those three categories tend to overlap. If you’re avoiding your financial matters because it’s too distressing to deal with, that pent up pressure could be driving you to mentally, emotionally and even physically deteriorate.

Or maybe you’re someone that’s pursuing a lifestyle of personal financial freedom. You probably pay a lot of attention to your budgets and credit card statements, but what you might be losing sight of is how all those numbers and spreadsheets could be affecting your health.

Stress management is no joke. If you don’t take early indicators seriously, you could run the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and a slew of psychological ramifications that will cost you more in the long run.

Financial Stress Test

When it comes to saving money and debt management, it’s very important to set and achieve goals. However, if those high standards are becoming a silent killer, it just isn’t worth it. That isn’t to say being financially responsible is a bad thing, but if you’re going overboard, it could defeat the very purpose of what you’re doing it for in the first place–to live a more comfortable life.

If you’re suffering from any of these ailments, it’s time to take a breather and address your stress:

  • Insomnia: According to a study by The Associated Press and AOL, 39 percent of people with debt suffer from insomnia versus only 17 percent of people not in debt.
  • Anxiety: 29 percent of those with high financial stress suffer anxiety versus only four percent of those with low stress.
  • Depression: 23 percent of people with high debt stress experience severe depression compared to only four percent of those with low stress.
  • Heart attack: About twice as many people with high financial stress (6 percent) suffer from heart attacks or arrhythmia than those with low stress.

Other physical ailments experienced at a higher rate with those in financial distress include ulcers, muscle tension, migraines and increased blood pressure.

Financial Stress Management

If your finances are getting out of hand, it’s time to take more control over them. Inversely, if you’re too controlling over your money issues, perhaps it’s time to let loose a little. Financial stress can stem from many different situations. Identify what the stressor is and then consciously work towards eliminating it from your life.

  • Debt: If your bills are piling up and you don’t know where to begin, start by seeking professional help. Yes, it’s hard to face the reality of your financial situation, but living a life of uncertainty and angst is not going to work. The sooner you address the problem head on–maybe even with the help of professionals and debt consolidation strategies–the better you’ll feel. The longer you put it off, the more damage you’ll inflict on yourself emotionally, mentally and physically.
  • Financially Prudish: Being prudent with money is a good thing, but some people can take it too far. Saving money and living frugally can really help reduce financial stress, but if you’re feeling depressed because you didn’t save an extra buck on shampoo or overly anxious to see friends and family because you’re afraid to spend money, you need to loosen up and relax a little. Re-evaluate your priorities and values. Remind yourself why you’re working so hard to save your money in the first place. It certainly isn’t just so you can keep it in the bank forever.

Coping with Stress

When someone is dealing with stress, it isn’t uncommon to feel that their entire life is engulfed in it even if it’s only one aspect of a bigger picture. To successfully cope with your pressures, you need to recognize what demands are being placed on you that are making you and your body behave this way.

Once you do that, figure out if those demands and expectations are realistic and achievable. If they’re not, re-assess your goals to something that is more reasonable. If your demands are realistic, identify why you aren’t meeting those expectations. Sometimes dealing with stress is as simple as being more accountable.

Finally, and most importantly, find time to rest, relax and exercise. Your life is a giant combination of many aspects. Don’t let one negative area dominate everything else. Carve some time out of your day to enjoy doing the things you love doing. Whether it’s a walk in the park, cozying up in bed with a nice book or watching some TV or movie, be sure you take time to enjoy the finer things in life. After all, it’s only money.

Henry Truc
Henry Truc

Henry Truc is an experienced business writer and personal finance enthusiast. His work has appeared on Yahoo! Finance, Nasdaq.com, and GoBankingRates.com, where he currently writes as one of GBR’s full-time personal finance contributors.