The No. 1 Reason Americans are Stressed Out (And How It's Literally Killing Us)

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Kayla Heisler1.16k
May 23, 2024 at 9:13PM UTC

If your goal for 2019 is to better your saving and spending habits, you may benefit more from working toward this resolution than you even realize. While there are many reasons to stress out, multiple studies have shown that in America, anxiety over finances is the number one cause of stress — and the effects to health are detrimental. 

A Northwestern Mutual survey found that the most significant stressor for Americans was money, regardless of the condition of the economic climate. 

There are many reasons why worry concerning finances is so prevalent. First, many Americans have credit card debt and loans, but few have a healthy amount of savings. The average outstanding balance of student loans increased 62 percent over the last decade, and the total outstanding balance for student loans in America reached a staggering $1.5 trillion in 2018, according to the Federal Reserve. 

A study conducted by LendingClub also revealed that fiscal health and physical health are more tightly linked than many may realize.

How much of a toll does stressing over money take on a person’s body? Money stress can greatly diminish mental, cardiovascular, and digestive health. 68 percent of women and 56 percent of men reported losing sleep over money, and approximately 60 percent of workers reported feeling anxiety and sleeplessness due to financial stress. 

People who are born with the ‘CLOCK’ (Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput) gene are more likely than those born without the gene to experience migraine during bouts of financial stress. Having high debt levels can lead to increased blood pressure, and twice the percentage of those with high financial stress are likely to report experiencing a heart attack or arrhythmia than those who have low financial stress. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease accounted for 1 in 7 deaths in the United States in 2018, and cardiovascular disease kills more people each year than all types of cancer and Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease combined. The Associated Press conducted a poll that found that those under high financial pressure were more than 3 times as likely to develop ulcers and digestive issues.

Do you feel like you spend an excessive amount of time worrying about your finances?

There’s no time like the present to take action! There are a variety of resources and websites available online that can help you better manage your finances, improve your spending practices, and dig yourself out of debt.

Remember that you only have one life, and at the end of the day even though you should be mindful of your finances, money really isn’t everything, and happiness is important. If you’re looking to destress, there are many free or affordable activities that you can try—like taking long walks or journaling. Whatever  financial strategy you plan to employ this year, there’s no better time than the present to get started and move forward.

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Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.

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