Remembering net worth cannot affect self-worth
After the War of 1812, jail populations swelled with people who had fallen victim to the economic hardships that followed the conflict and were in debt – particularly poor and vulnerable populations. They were being imprisoned because they no longer had the means to pay their bills.
Even though imprisonment of debtors was abolished under federal law in 1883, people with debt burdens continued to be labeled as weak, irresponsible and illiterate – social perceptions which added even more stress to an already stressful situation.
We are imprisoned by these same stereotypes today.
The Non-Financial Impact of Debt
Releasing this stigma in your own mind will be one of the most critical factors necessary to create the psychological and financial environment you’ll need to get debt out of your life and create financial well-being.
Another critical factor to recognize is the non-financial impact of stress. Here are some ways you may not realize worrying about finances can affect you:
People with debt are more than twice as likely to experience mental health problems, according to the University of Nottingham.
Debt has a physical toll as well, with researchers at Northwestern University finding that high debt levels increase blood pressure, heart disease and the risk of stroke.
Debt is a leading cause of stress in relationships.
Managing Financial Stress
Using the right skills to navigate financial stress is critical to your psychological, financial and emotional well-being. Here are five ways to manage financial stress:
Be Present and Positive: This means more than simply thinking happy thoughts. By reminding yourself every day to keep debt in perspective, you can train your brain to recognize that owing money is not a “life or death” situation. Also, work on using your fear and anxiety as triggers to think about the things and people you love, rather than obsessing about what “might happen.”
Self-Care: Our brains can associate things like substance abuse and overeating with stress relief. If you’re attempting to reduce stress through these methods, you need to give yourself a reality check. Those behaviors create stress and don’t address the root cause of the problem. Getting rest and exercise is a much better approach to staying relaxed and maintaining a clear and open mind.
Be Honest: This means taking a look at your financial personality so that you can solve the right problem. Is your debt the result of overspending? Not generating enough income for yourself? Remember that you are human, and none of this is personal. It’s just a matter of seeing and shifting mental and behavior patterns that don’t serve you.
Set Goals: Goals can provide you with the motivation to change destructive financial patterns. Think about what your ideal life looks like and the changes you would have to make when it comes to debt and spending in order to achieve it.
Create a Plan: As you master the psychological and emotional aspects of debt, it is imperative that you create a financial plan to help you get past this financial challenge. Equally important is getting the right support and guidance you need in order to do that.
Finally, and most important, life happens. Your financial situation cannot diminish who you truly are, and what you truly value. Net worth does not define self-worth.
Stacey Tisdale is compensated by OneMain.
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