Under Pressure

Money worries are never far from mind – but did you know they can also affect your health?

Whether it’s a looming deadline at work or a race to get out the door on time, we all get stressed sometimes. But too much stress can be overwhelming – and according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, chronic stress can have an impact on our lives. Being stressed out affects our ability to concentrate and our self-confidence. It can even lead to sleep difficulties, headaches and more frequent illness.1

While plenty of things in life may cause us to feel stressed, one of the biggest culprits is money. According to a national survey by the Financial Planning Standards Council, 42 per cent of Canadians now rank finances as their number-one source of stress.2  That’s not surprising when you consider how financially stretched we are. As we work to save for retirement and pay for our kids’ education, we’re also dealing with more debt than ever before. For the first time, Canada’s consumer-debt-to-income ratio (total household debt compared to disposable income) topped 163.3 per cent3 in 2014 as we take on debt to pay for homes, cars and vacations.

And these money worries can also affect our health. A recent study4 shows that financial stress can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being – and even affect us on the job. Here are a few key findings:

  • 76 per cent of those who report high stress levels say the state of their finances is partly or entirely to blame.
  • Highly stressed individuals are significantly less likely to be motivated to do their best at work or feel they have a healthy worklife balance.
  • Those who are very comfortable with their current financial situation are almost twice as likely to say they are very happy and are 1.5 times more likely to report that they are in good health. They are also more likely to be exercising regularly.

While being in poor financial shape can cause a lot of anxiety, the good news is there are ways to help fix it. In fact, making improvements to your financial health can have a positive impact on your personal well-being. If you’re feeling stressed because of money issues, here are three steps you can take to help make things better:

  1. Face it. Finding money to contribute to your retirement savings or dealing with a drawer full of unpaid bills can seem like monumental tasks. But the longer you ignore your financial situation, the worse your stress is likely to get. Facing the issue is the first step towards improving matters and alleviating your stress. Open up to your spouse, your advisor and others who can help you take control of your finances. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can begin to tackle the issue head-on.
  1. Make a plan. Having a concrete strategy in place, such as a debt repayment plan, can help you feel more positive and in control of your future. Your advisor can work with you to assess your goals and put together a step-by-step plan to achieve them.
  1. Have fun. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a nice dinner at home, make room for relaxation and fun. Laughter and friendship are excellent stressbusters. Find low-cost or free ways to let off some steam and enjoy life.
SIX TRAITS OF FINANCIALLY PREPARED INDIVIDUALS 1. They have a financial plan in place. 2. They have an appropriate level of debt and a plan to manage it. 3. They’re saving for retirement. 4. They take fewer sick days. 5. They are more productive and engaged at work. 6. They are more physically active. Source: Manulife/Ipsos Reid Health and Wealth Wellness Study 2014.

Remember: your finances don’t have to drag down your health. If you address your money worries, you might just find you have a lot more to be positive about than you thought. In fact, talking to someone and taking steps towards financial wellness can lead to a happier and healthier you.

To see how financially fit you are, take The Readiness Quiz today.

 

1 Canadian Mental Health Association, “Stress”

2 Financial Planning Standards Council national survey (excluding Quebec), “How is financial stress affecting Canadians?

3 The Globe and Mail, “Household debt hits new high as country’s financial stability questioned” – March 12, 2015

4 The Manulife/Ipsos Reid Health and Wealth Wellness Study 2014 surveyed over 2,000 Canadians who worked a minimum of 20 hours per week and who had both a retirement plan and a health plan through work or who had neither.

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