One of the main sources of stress for Canadians is not work or health. It’s money worries. According to data provided by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada:
- 48% of Canadians say they’ve lost sleep because of financial worries.
- 44% say it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay is late.
What are the main sources of financial stress?
- Managing household expenses.
- Dealing with high levels of debt.
- Living from paycheck to paycheck.
- Struggling to save money for short and long-term goals.
- Dealing with unexpected expenses.
If financial stress becomes overwhelming, it can affect your work performance, relationships and physical health.
“Experiencing a certain level of stress is normal,” says Donna Ferguson, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Stress is an essential part of our fight or flight instinct. However, beyond a certain level, it becomes harmful.”
What are the consequences of financial stress?
According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, people dealing with financial stress are:
- Twice as likely to report poor overall health.
- Four times as likely to suffer from sleep problems, headaches and other illnesses.
- More likely to experience strain in their personal relationships.
You can avoid unnecessary suffering due to financial stress. You can reduce your financial stress by managing your money wisely.
What financial actions can I take to improve my health?
There are solutions that promote financial, physical and mental wellness. Here are four.
1. Stop losing sleep over money worries
Stress caused by debt can disrupt your sleep. “If you spend your night worrying and looking for solutions to your financial problems, you will be sleep deprived. This will have both an emotional and physical impact,” says Ms. Ferguson. By relieving your stress, you will find it easier to relax. This will lead to better quality sleep. Better sleep will help you avoid weight gain and decreased immunity that can be caused by insomnia.
Find out more: What to do if you're not getting enough sleep
2. Keep your heart healthy
The physical effects of financial stress can also negatively affect your heart. Why? Because of cortisol. Your body releases this hormone as a response to stress. Cortisol then increases both your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s no surprise that the rate of heart attacks significantly increases during periods of economic uncertainty. If you adopt wise investment habits, you’ll be able to weather economic setbacks. This is a good way to reduce financial stress.
Find out more: How to reduce stress and anxiety with deep breathing
3. Manage your blood sugar levels
Cortisol may also explain why managing diabetes while experiencing financial stress is more difficult. This hormone naturally increases your blood sugar level. As a result, when cortisol levels are high, managing your blood glucose is more complicated. By managing your financial stress, you will encourage lower cortisol levels. This will make it easier for you to keep your blood sugar levels in check, which reduces the risk of complications.
Find out more: How to stop diabetes before it starts
4. Lower your risk of depression and anxiety
“In general, mental illness is not just the result of financial stress. There are other risk factors, including genetic predisposition, which play an important role. However, financial stress can be a critical element that triggers depression or anxiety,” says Ms. Ferguson.
Struggling to meet basic needs can exacerbate depression. Financial stress can also create tension in your relationships which can negatively affect your mental health. By maintaining your financial health, you will have one less source of tension. This approach and the support of health care providers should help you to better manage depression and anxiety.
Find out more: How exercise helps fight anxiety and depression
How to take control of my finances ... and reduce my financial stress
The good news is that just drawing up a plan can reduce your stress and help you breathe easier.
1. Take the first step
Get started now with our Budget Calculator. This tool can help you better manage your spending and spot if your budget is balanced or not. It’s not complicated. Answer a few questions and you’ll see the results.
Find out more: How to make your plan work for you
2. Avoid budgets that are too restrictive
Budgets are like diets. They can prevent you from enjoying your money just as diets can eliminate the pleasure of food. The solution is to draw up a realistic plan that will help you reach your goals without being totally restricted.
3. Consider life insurance
Ensuring the financial security of your loved ones in the event of a serious illness or death can be a source of stress. Taking out life insurance and critical illness insurance that provide financial protection for your family can reduce this stress.
- What type of life insurance do you need?
- Are you unsure how much life insurance you might need? Try our Life insurance calculator.
- Find out how a serious illness could affect your finances. Try our Critical illness insurance calculator.
4. Take advantage of employee benefits
An increasing number of employers provide their employees with opportunities to improve their financial literacy. Find out if you have access to financial advice through your group benefits plan.
- Read more: How do employee pension plans work?
5. Talk to an advisor
Planning for the future is challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. An advisor can help you build a plan that meets your needs.
Where can I learn more?
An advisor can provide more detailed information and answer any questions you may have.
Enter your postal code to connect with an advisor near you.
Most importantly, take advantage of health resources to combat the physical effects of financial hardship and stress. To rebuild the health and energy you need to achieve your financial dreams, you can consult:
- A family doctor.
- A psychologist.
- An advisor.
- Another health-care provider.
They can help you get the care you need.
Additional ways to cope with stress:
This article provides general information only. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.