To some extent, stress is a normal part of being alive. It’s a natural response to pressure. But stress can easily get out of hand, and contribute to anxiety, depression and other physiological conditions. Among the greatest stressors is money — especially if you’re feeling unsure about your finances. According to a new study by Northwestern Mutual, more than a third (36%) of Americans say uncertainty about their finances keeps them up at night at least once per month.
Interestingly, the study found that financial anxiety tends to follow a pattern, at least in terms of generations. Millennials are the most anxious about money, with 53% saying that financial uncertainty keeps them up at night, compared to 19% of baby boomers and 44% of Gen Zers.
“Given the uncertainty we’ve all experienced these past few years, it makes sense that some people are feeling less confident in their financial situation right now relative to other factors in their lives,” Tim Gerend, chief distribution officer at Northwestern Mutual, indicated.
“Finances are just one part of people’s lives, but they can have a real impact on overall wellness — especially if they are not sure if they are making sound financial decisions.”
Northwestern Mutual’s study is the latest in a line of related investigations producing similar results. A March poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (APNORC) indicated that “about half of U.S. adults in households earning less than $60,000 annually and about 4 in 10 of those in households earning $60,000 to $100,000 say they’re very stressed by their personal finances,” per CBS News.
“Few adults are very confident they can keep up with their expenses, pay an unexpected medical expense, have enough to retire or find a job,” APNORC analysts suggested.
Anxiety isn’t the only symptom financial uncertainty leads to. The study found that depression, issues with friends and family, physical illness and impact on job performance are also associated with financial uncertainty. This all prompts the question: What can one do to cope with financial uncertainty so that they can lead a healthy and balanced life?
Make a Budget You’ll Stick to
If you haven’t yet created a budget you can stick to, now is the time. Some personal finance experts recommend crafting a budget on a monthly basis, but there is no rule around this — it could benefit your peace of mind to do it more often, perhaps weekly. The more you see and work with your budget, the better you will feel about the financial decisions you’re making and the general path you’re on. Further, being more secure in one’s financial position leads to greater holistic dividends.
“When people feel more secure in their financial situation, it frees up time and energy to focus on other parts of life that bring them happiness and fulfillment – whether that’s traveling, spending time with friends and family or pursuing a hobby,” Gerend stated.
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Exercise is the Key To Reducing Mental Stress
Physical exercise is a known stress reducer. Exercise stimulates your brain to release endorphins and serotonin that can lift your mood and help your mind break away from negative thought patterns.
Meditation is More Than a Fad
You’ve probably already heard about the stress-fighting benefits of meditation. But the benefits can’t be overstated. Consider trying apps like Headspace and Calm if you need a bit of guidance to center and unwind.
Confide in Others To Ease Stress
We don’t talk enough about money with others, and this is a problem in itself. Sharing and venting about your financial concerns is a helpful way to keep stress at bay. In addition to trusted friends, you might consider enlisting the help of a therapist — and possibly even a financial therapist in particular.
“Having a financial advisor and doing disciplined planning helps in every area of life, and at every life stage,” said Gerend.
Practice Proper Sleep Scheduling
It’s possible that money isn’t the only reason your sleep is disrupted. Too much screen time before bed can also wreak havoc on your schedule. It’s recommended that you stay away from your phone and computer for an hour before bed. If you need to keep your phone near you because you use it for your alarm, invest a small amount of money in an old-fashioned alarm to keep on your nightstand.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 1/3 of Americans Say Money Problems Keep Them Up at Night — Do Boomers, Millennials or Gen Zers Suffer More Financial Anxiety?