Are financial worries getting the best of you? -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Are financial worries getting the best of you?

By Amanda Genge, Staff Writer, myOptumHealth

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You owe $4,200 on your credit card, your dishwasher just bit the dust and the overtime hours you always count on were eliminated. Sound familiar? Many of us have struggled with finances at one time or another. In fact, nearly three out of four Americans say that money is at the top of their list of stressors.

Losing a job, taking out a loan or getting a divorce are a few events that can wreak havoc on your emotions and your wallet. At times, even people who seem to make lots of money may have a hard time just making ends meet, let alone building up savings.

For many, anxiety and worry come with these money woes. You might notice a change in your sleep habits or appetite. You may even start to feel depressed and withdrawn. Ignoring the issues can make the problem and any symptoms worse.

How can you start to turn things around?

1) Acknowledge the situation

Do you avoid checking your bank balance because you're afraid of what you might see? Do bills pile up every month in a stack you hate to go near? Facing your finances head-on is the only way you'll be able to make positive changes.

2) Think about your relationship with money

Some people equate the amount in their bank account with personal self-worth. Others may spend money because shopping makes them feel better about themselves. Knowing the role money plays in your life can provide some perspective, and may even change how you approach financial decisions.

3) Get professional help

Sometimes, we can't cope on our own. Turn to a financial advisor or debt counselor if you need help. An advisor can teach you how to budget for everyday spending, as well as plan for big purchases and retirement. If you feel depressed or anxious, look into seeing a therapist who can help you work through those issues, too.

4) Identify and change harmful behaviors

Some people turn to alcohol, cigarettes, food or even a shopping spree to escape their problems. Try to swap these activities for healthier, more affirming ones like exercise, low-cost hobbies or reading.

5) Reconnect with those around you

If you're wrapped up in your own troubles, you may tune out friends and family who might be able to offer support.

6) Make small changes

Long-term financial goals, like paying off several big debts, can seem daunting. Aim to take small steps along the way to keep yourself motivated and less frustrated.

7) Cheer yourself up

Stress and depression might make you feel as if you don't deserve to enjoy yourself. Catching a free movie at the library or taking a walk through a scenic park can help improve your mood and outlook.

8) Don't neglect your health

Because stress and depression have been linked to physical problems like fatigue and high blood pressure, it's important to see your doctor for a checkup if you aren't feeling well.

If you're struggling with debt or other financial trouble, you owe it to yourself to get help sooner rather than later. Left unchecked, the emotional fallout from money problems can destroy marriages and families. Once you start to deal with your finances, you may be surprised by how many priceless moments you missed out on while worrying about money.

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  • American Psychological Association. Learning to deal with stress. Accessed: 10/09/2007
  • American Academy of Family Physicians. Stress: How to cope better with life's challenges. Accessed: 10/12/2007
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