The Emotional Effects of Debt
The number one cause of stress in Australia is personal finance. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, a staggering 49% of the population admitted personal finance was their main cause of stress over the last five years. Family issues came in next (45%) followed closely by personal health (44%). The link between debt and psychological health is clear.
Unsurprisingly, worrying about personal finance can affect not only you, but your family life and personal health. If left untreated, stress can wreak havoc on your life.
Psychologist Dr Darryl Cross of Adelaide’s Crossways Consulting said continual debt stress would eventually lead to burn out. “It’s a deterioration over time; the body isn’t built to manage that constant stress,” he said.
According to Dr Cross, burn out was a very real, and very serious consequence of living with continual stress of debt.
“People who have suffered burn out often have to take six months off work”
Although everyone needs an optimal level of stress to do any job, when it starts to impact on a life in the form of sleep deprivation, headaches and/or constant flu, bugs or colds, it’s time to get help.
“The longer it goes on, the harder it is to come back because you’re starting to head towards burn out,” Dr Cross warned. “If you’re not aware of the stress you’re under…you can very well guarantee that your friends, family, work colleagues or boss is going to notice a difference in your demeanor and your work performance.”
Signs of too much stress to look for in yourself and others include a difference in general presentation, mood swings, periods of intense anxiety, tiredness/sleep deprivation, missing deadlines or not getting work done. These are some of the common emotional side effects of debt.
“You may not be as engaging in your relationships and not as interested as you used to be,” Dr Cross said. “You may be short fused, short tempered and not a lot of fun to be around but (others) will notice and will no doubt give you feedback.”
The physiological impact of debt on health is a common phenomenon
As nearly half the population suffers from the same kind of stress related to personal finance, Dr Cross said the smart thing to do in reducing that stress was to go after the cause of the issue.
“Ask yourself, ‘What can I do to fix this or at least reduce it?’ and ‘What’s within my power to fix this physical issue?’,” he said. This is the best approach to limit the effects of debt on your psyche.
Dr Cross recommended stopping negative self-thoughts and looking instead at ways to assist your positive thinking. He advised writing down your negative self-thoughts on a piece of paper and drawing a line down the middle, on the opposite side, and turn that thought around. For example, having a thought like, “I can’t cope, why does this always happen to me?” can be turned around to read, “Yes, this might happen to me, but it doesn’t always happen to me — it happens to other people as well and I need to recognise I’m not the only one in the world with this issue.”
“It’s about getting those thoughts into perspective,” Dr Cross said. “Another good way to reduce debt stress is to talk over your issue with someone. A problem shared is a problem halved.”
Dr Cross also recommended regular exercise, a healthy diet and avoiding drugs and/or excessive alcohol consumption to counteract the negative emotional effects of debt. “So many studies have shown that exercise is without a doubt the best thing in reducing stress and depression,” he said. “Drugs and alcohol just exacerbate the problem (and) if you don’t deal with (stress), you’re headed for burn out.”
Instead the best way to combat the emotional impact of debt is to face the problem and take steps towards finding a debt solution. Debt Mediators offer qualified advice and options to relieve Australians of the stress of debt. Reduce the effects of debt on your wellbeing and talk to one of our consultants.