Stress is not in and of itself good or bad. It is experienced differently by everyone and involves us physically, mentally and emotionally. Stress can motivate, and stress can energize. It can create positive or negative results, depending ultimately on how we perceive the stressor and how we respond to it. Consciously working to develop skills to improve our ability to handle stress can make a difference in the amount of influence stress commands in our lives.
The longer we postpone dealing with stress, or the longer stress remains unmanaged, the greater the risk of anxiety, increased tension and other negative results including negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. Some types of negative physical reactions experience under stress may include rapid heartbeat or breathing, headache, stiff neck, tight or sore shoulders, backache, upset stomach or nausea. Mental and emotional indicators of stress may be expressed through worry, frustration, exhaustion, lack of concentration, jumpiness, moodiness, irritability, intolerance, and extreme highs and lows in attitude or outlook, like depression.
Physical reactions to
stress may include
headache, stiff neck, and
tight or sore shoulders.
The causes of stress come from all areas of our lives. Our everyday lives produce many small stressors from seemingly innocuous influences like the weather, traffic jams, road construction or our expectations, both of others and ourselves. In addition, health issues, working situations, and life transitions like getting married, having a baby, losing your job, the empty nest, divorce and retirement can produce great amounts of stress with which to cope.
Some fun facts about stress from my.webmd.com:
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five to ninety percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress related ailments and complaints.
- Stress is linked to six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accident, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
- OSHA says stress is a hazard in the workplace: lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, workers comp-cost to American industry $300 billion annually.
- Lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than fifty percent, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
So how does all this talk of stress relate to credit and debt?
Consider this: more than half of all employees nationwide are living paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, according to the Federal Reserve, on average, twenty-two percent of a household’s wages are committed to paying the interest and a part of their principal debts, while twenty million households’ pay anywhere from thirty-five to seventy percent. So, if a third of your income goes to taxes and twenty-two percent of your income goes to making payment on interest, just keeping up with minimum payments can be stressful.
Stress accumulates as
day after day, more
and more credit card
Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who owes more than they can afford to pay each month. Stress accumulates as each day more credit card bills arrive, embarrassment about their financial situation increases stress levels, and you end up unable to get the sleep you need to be effective at work as you lay awake at night worrying about what to do with your debt. In some cases, one will try to carry the burden alone, increasing the family debt load in an attempt to stay ahead and then tries to hide the problem from their spouse. (Please, please note: sooner or later, they always find out.)
Now you start getting behind on the bills. (Almost sixty percent of cardholders were charged a late fee last year.) The stress continues to build. The creditors start calling you at work. It’s always on your mind. Balances continue to rise while late charges and overlimit fees continue to accrue. Does this sound like anyone you know?
People can actually make themselves sick mentally and physically with the worries debt brings. (Not to mention the potential for additional medical bills due to dealing with the effects). Our society pays immensely for the toll of personal debt. It seems that many times it is the family structure that suffers the most. It can start with the shame of the breadwinner’s being unable to repay the debts. It is not uncommon for parents to hide debt problems from their children (children shouldn’t have to cope with adult worries), yet parents will break out in rages of anger when the child asks for something that cost money, creating family problems beyond not being able to pay the bills.
Sometimes it snowballs into the "family secret." The family may isolate themselves from friends and neighbors. Parents may have children answer the phone to avoid bill collectors and not pursue the social contacts or networking necessary to further their careers-in essence, unwittingly continuing debt problems that might be eased through promotions and pay increases. Sadly, children, in an effort to help out Mom and Dad, may avoid making friends, not bring friends home, or withdraw from social interaction themselves to avoid difficult or uncomfortable questions.
As bills continue to fall
further behind calls
from collectors increase,
and stress continues
Is it any wonder that more people are afraid of financial problems than are afraid of death?
Again, does this sound like anyone you know?
Co-workers? Friends? Family? Or possibly, even you?
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from debt stress, don’t delay:
Tell them no one has to face debt stress alone.
Let them know help is available and just a phone call away. Credit Advisors Foundation can help.
Talking to a certified credit counselor can help ease the burden. The credit counselors will help to find patterns or repeated causes of debt stress AND assist in the creation of a plan of stress relief for your specific situation.
While eighty-five percent of what we worry about never happens, WE CAN improve or change the other fifteen percent of what we worry about - including debt worries.
The physical, emotional and mental impact of negative debt stress doesn’t have to keep you down.
Do it now. Turn your debt stress around into motivation for new opportunities and a new low stress tomorrow.