Financial Stress May Be Costing You Your Health

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Financial concerns continue to top the list of things Americans stress about. How that worry can hurt you, and tips on how to get it under control.

Overall, Americans are less stressed these days. But money matters are still causing anxiety for many people, and it could be costing them their health.

That’s according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association, which found 3 in 4 adults experience money stress at least some of the time. A quarter of Americans said they have felt extreme financial stress in the past month.

Still, stress levels have hit a seven-year low: 4.9 on a 10 point scale, down from 6.2 in 2007. Norman B. Anderson, CEO of the APA, told TODAY:

We looked really carefully at the trends and overall levels of stress and found a significant decline in stress in 2014. We suspect it has a lot to do with economic conditions in the country.

Women, parents, younger adults and people who make less than $50,000 per year experience the most financial stress.

Katherine Nordal, the APA’s executive director for professional practice, told CBS that despite recent economic gains across the country, wage stagnation, increasing debt and inflation have made many people’s money problems worse.

“Many people still feel very squeezed, just in terms of taking care of their daily needs,” Nordal said. “We’re still really out of balance in terms of economic improvement trickling down to really help the majority of the population.”

The survey found that financial stress is causing people to feel irritable, anxious or exhausted. It’s also having other negative health consequences. Some people report skipping out on medical appointments or ignoring other health care issues because of their financial concerns.

The survey also revealed that some people deal with financial stress in unhealthy ways. For instance, being sedentary and watching television or surfing the Internet for long periods of time, not sleeping, eating too much or eating unhealthy foods, and drinking alcohol or smoking.

But there are healthy alternatives to coping with stress. Some respondents reported listening to music (44 percent) or exercising/walking (43 percent). The APA suggests emotional support from family and friends is an effective stress reducer. Anderson said:

Clearly our data show that our emotional support is highly connected to stress. The higher the emotional support, the lower the stress.

Although financial stress is the most commonly reported source of stress for Americans at 64 percent, other stressors include: work (60 percent), the economy (49 percent), family responsibilities (47 percent) and personal health concerns (46 percent).

Are you financially stressed? How do you cope? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

What can you do about money-related anxiety? Watch this video for some tips:

Stacy Johnson

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