It’s great we’re talking about mental health more. When it comes to improving our mental health, there are a couple of methods we talk about the most: therapy, exercise, self-care practices, and finding a supportive community.
However, one pretty huge aspect that is often overlooked is the state of our finances. The problem is, we have a strong culture of not talking about money. And there’s a lot of cultural shame about not being able to fix your financial situation alone.
You probably know that money is stressful. But not necessarily what specific impact financial stressors have on our brains and bodies, and why.
Understanding how financial stressors work is super important because then you can create specially tailored strategies for coping with them.
In this blog, we’re gonna delve into the science behind improving your mental health by cleaning up your finances and explore the ways in which managing your money can positively impact your well-being. Plus, practical tips you can use today to make the whole money thing a little easier.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The connection between stress and mental health
- Compulsive Spending
- How to break the cycle
BTW: we’re def not mental health professionals. But all the articles we site in this blog were written by them.
Understanding Financial Stressors | The Connection Between Stress and Mental Health
To understand the connection between your mental health and your finances, it's important to recognize how much of an impact financial stressors have on our lives.
Human brains are built to deal with some stress. Way back when, the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) would have helped with our fight or flight response when faced with threats. Then, once we’d escaped the ancient bear or whatever was squaring up for a fight, our bodies would have a chance to recover.
The problem is financial stressors like mounting debt and living paycheck to paycheck create a continued drip of cortisol in our brains, meaning we have no opportunity to recover.
Financial stressors can have a ripple effect on plenty of aspects of our lives: they can put a strain on relationships, they can impact our ability to focus - negatively affecting things like work and personal growth, and feelings of shame and guilt can impact self-esteem.
According to the American Psychological Association, money-related stress can lead to problems like headaches and stomach aches but also mental health issues, such as anxiety and trouble sleeping. Over time, the toll of stress on the body can contribute to chronic physical conditions, or make pre-existing conditions like arthritis worse.
Understanding Financial Stressors | Compulsive Spending
One particular area where our finances can cross over with mental health is compulsive spending. Compulsive buying - where people really can’t stop - is sometimes diagnosed as a disorder. But plenty of people shop impulsively (going off an impulse without any thought about the impact) as a way of coping with emotional stress.
This is because the act of shopping can trigger a release of dopamine, the brain's pleasure chemical, providing a temporary boost in your mood. However, because it’s temporary, people continue to spend when they feel down in search of that boost.
It’s also important to remember that we live in a super materialistic society, where our self-worth is often tied to what we own. And social media doesn’t help. We’re constantly reminded we need to buy through targeted ads, sponsored content, and YouTube hauls.
Understanding Financial Stressors | Breaking the Cycle
As a money app, we’re all about helping people with their personal finances. Here are some strategies you can use to improve your financial situation. You can use our free money app Cleo to help out, but you can also use these techniques without her.
1. Face Your Financial Reality
Acknowledge your financial situation without judgment. Take an honest look at your income, expenses, and debt. Understanding your financial reality is the first step toward making positive changes.
Once you’ve downloaded Cleo for free, you’ll be asked to connect your bank account. At this point, you won’t be charged, Cleo will just use this information to provide you with a snapshot of your financial situation, so she can help you move forward.
We know that facing your financial situation can be super hard. If you wanna make the whole thing a little less serious, type “roast me” into the chat with Cleo. And if you need a little help with the self-love thing, type “hype me” instead.
2. Create a Budget and Set Goals
Setting clear goals provides a sense of purpose and direction, reducing anxiety and increasing feelings of control.
Cleo can do this for you. She’ll also track your spending, and call you out when you’re about to hit spend limits. This live feedback can help you cut down on impulsive spending.
3. Seek Professional Guidance
Consider seeking help from financial advisors or credit counselors who can provide expert advice tailored to your specific situation. They can assist you in creating a personalized financial plan, negotiating with creditors, and developing strategies for long-term financial stability.
Obviously, we know this can cost money, which is likely the very source of the problem. In this case, have a whole list of free mental health resources on our blog.
Improving your financial situation takes time and patience, just like working on your mental health. Be kind on yourself. You’ve got this. Cleo’s got your back.
Enjoy this post? Give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. Big love. Cleo 💙