Money Worries Are Impacting Americans' Physical And Mental Health: Five Steps To Wellness And Sanity

Kim McLendon

Money worries, financial concerns, cash flow problems, whatever the euphemism, lack of money is a leading cause of anxiety in America. CNN Money cites a recent study by Northwest Mutual that revealed that over 25 percent of the study's subjects suffer from significant worry about money every single day.

Money worries are almost universal. The Northwest Mutual 2016 Planning and Progress Study revealed that 85 percent of the 2,646 respondents were worried about money in some way. In-depth interviews with these adult U.S. subjects reveal a crisis of financial distress causing emotional distress.

Health problems, directly related to economic needs, are impacting 66 percent of the test subjects, while 70 percent said it was affecting relationships in their homes, and 51 percent said their lack of money was hurting their social life. The level of stress has been building over the last few years according to 36 percent of those surveyed, while only 14 percent said they felt better about their financial situation than they did four years ago.

Retirement planning is also a huge worry as 32 percent are concerned they will not have sufficient funds to retire, while 21 percent say they might outlive their retirement savings. Then, 20 percent have a fear of becoming a financial burden.

While saving money, creating an investment strategy, and hiring a financial advisor are all great suggestions for those who can manage it, many or even most people can't afford to do any of that. So what can one do? U.S. News & World Report has some suggestions that might be a bit more practical for those who feel they can do very little about their financial situation.

1. Don't Suffer In Lonely Silence, Call On Old Friends And Make New Ones

People with extreme money worries should, first of all, know they are not alone, and take precautions not to become isolated. Instead of shame, people need to be honest with each other. Health quotes Liza Gold MD, a psychiatrist and professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, who warns against isolation.

"Don't allow yourself to become isolated by shame, which is very common. Let other people in and let them know how difficult things are, and don't try to keep a stiff upper lip and bear it all yourself. It's not a burden that can be borne well in isolation."

Ask for help. Put aside any shyness and call in all the business connections that most people accumulate over the years. Don't be ashamed to ask for a job lead or money-making suggestions.

"We're social beings and we respond to social connections very well. Instead of feeling embarrassed or guilty when you're having money trouble. It's actually time to turn to those loved ones for support. You're going to hear from them that they're in the same boat, or a similar boat."

Money worries are common and sometimes people just have to accept that their situation has changed. According to Health, it is important for people to understand this is not about feeling guilty or blaming one's self. These days, money problems are not anyone's fault, least of all the people who are either in poverty or fearfully balancing on the edge of being poor. Dr. Rego urges people to be gentle with themselves.

"If you start beating yourself up in the moment with all those accusations and self-flagellations, you can only expect your mood to go in one direction."

3. Find Solutions and Regain Control

Once money worries can be set aside and a more positive frame of mind is available, it is important to look at how much money is actually needed. What is in the budget now that could be sacrificed. Where could new income streams be found?

Create a plan, based on the needs, talents, and capabilities of all family members. It is time to put ideas gathered over time together and find answers. Consider refinancing mortgages to reduce the interest and payments. Try giving up a few luxuries, or find a cheaper place to shop. It is also time to assess career options.

4. Take Life One Day At A Time

Dr. Rego also says it is best to live in the moment and take life one day at a time. While planning ahead sometimes makes sense, ruminating about past failures and future troubles does not help at all. Do what needs to be done each day, follow the established plan, adapt it day by day, and don't get bogged down.

"If you're spending a lot of time ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, it's not good for you."

[Image by Olesia Bilkei/Shutterstock]

Take time to have fun, exercise, and relax. Do as many free or low-cost activities as possible. Learn to take joy in going for a walk or visiting friends. According to Dr. Rego, life doesn't have to be expensive to be enjoyable, but avoid passive activities like too much TV. Get active and appreciate those things that are really important, rather than material gain.

"Stay focused on the other valued things in your life, because money isn't everything."

[Photo by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Getty Images]