When Money Isn’t the Only Problem

In the current social climate, uncertainty is everywhere. COVID-19 has disrupted everyday life, and quarantining has changed how we live and interact with each other and ourselves. Perhaps the biggest concerns the general public face at this time are financially related. In the 6 weeks since the nation began widespread shutdowns in 2020, around 30 million people lost their jobs. Those numbers don’t include self-employed individuals, who we don’t have data on. If you take a further look into the data, you will see that specific industries were hit harder than others. As an example, New York’s entertainment and hospitality industries saw a 360% jump in unemployment due to the shutdowns occurring (How to deal, 2020). Such drastic changes leave little room for preparation, and the consequences of that are felt everywhere, most importantly on mental health.

Money related anxiety is known as financial stress, the worry associated with finances and economic status, encompassing a wide range of situations. From mortgages to student loans to medical bills to debt to finding a job, financial stress can stem from many different problems or a combination of a few (Financial stress, n.d.). As many of these are major problems if not handled correctly, it makes sense that the stress associated with them would impact an individual and their health. Many different physical conditions can be worsened when faced with financial stress, such as heart disease, migraines, high blood pressure, and diabetes (Robinson & Smith, 2021). When looked at in relation to financial difficulties, other symptoms might include depression, insomnia, weight gain or loss, relationship difficulties, unhealthy coping  mechanisms such as substance abuse, gambling, or drugs. Just as prevalent a symptom, but not as discussed, however, is anxiety.

Since anxiety is characterized by excessive worrying, it often gets lost in the stress aspect of financial stress. People think that the worry and concern they are feeling is simply due to their situation, and entirely normal considering the circumstances. While that is partially true, a significant part of that worry might stem from anxiety resulting from the situation and the financial stress being felt. This differentiation is important, because anxiety can often be excessive, going beyond the concern needed for a situation. It can stem from the fears and concerns present in that moment, causing a person to feel a deep sense of dread or extreme uncertainty for their future (How to deal, 2020). Acknowledging it exists is integral to the situation, because that can be the difference between slowly working out a solution, or wallowing in pity and digging a deeper hole.

Anxiety tricks individuals into believing that with constant thoughts and obsessions on a particular topic, a solution to a problem will be found.  However, there is no end in sight, with no solution to the problems faced. With this in mind, financial stress can be particularly scary, as this situation affects not only the individual but also their loved ones, and every other aspect of their life, from where they live to what they eat to how they feel. Separating financial stress and anxiety due to financial stress aids in the process of making a plan, reassuring the individual that not all hope is lost, and something, no matter how seemingly small and insignificant, can be done. That isn’t to say that all of the problems will disappear and life will go back to normal. The situation will remain the same, but they will now be better equipped to handle it, minimizing the interference anxiety has on their decision making.

With the knowledge that anxiety might be a potential symptom of financial stress, a person can make decisions that are well thought out and acknowledge whatever fears anxiety may bring up, working to actively dispel the irrational and mitigate the effects of the rational. Talking to someone, contacting a financial advisor, taking inventory of the situation, and making a plan are all reasonable and suitable steps to begin tackling the problem, which will also effectively fight against the anxiety stemming from financial stress. (Robinson & Smith, 2021) Doing all that without knowing that anxiety makes the situation appear worse than it seems is a nightmare. When going through change, noting down how you feel and how that’s connected to the change might be worthwhile, potentially cutting a problem at its roots, or at least beginning to fight against it.



Financial stress and your health. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2021, from https://www.cambridge- credit.org/financial-stress-and-your-health.html

How to deal with financial stress in the age of covid-19. (2020, May 04). Retrieved May 03, 2021, from https://manhattanmentalhealthcounseling.com/how-to-deal-with-financial- stress-in-the-age-of-covid-19/

Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2021, April). Coping with financial stress. Retrieved May 03, 2021, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/coping-with-financial-stress.htm

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