The Debt-Stress Connection
Gas and food prices are sky-high, the stock market is down, and the housing market is in the doldrums. But can worrying about the health of your bank account really make you sick?
The debt-stress connection: Fighting the saber-tooth tiger continued...
Our "fight-or-flight" system evolved as a way to physically deal
with a physical danger.The problem is now that same response gets activated by
everyday encounters. For example, getting stuck in a traffic jam or arguing
with your spouse can bring it on.
"One of the bigger things that activates it is when people see trouble
in their finances," Winner tells WebMD. "If people don't know how to
deal with this higher adrenaline level, then the levels of stress can build and
build. This can cause real physical and physiologic changes in the body that
can account for people feeling poorly."
The stress may be correlated with physical symptoms like heartburn,
headaches, and abdominal pains. "If you have a knot in your stomach all the
time, or if you're feeling anxious and worried a lot of the time, that would be
an area of concern," he says. "These are signs that stress is starting
to take a toll and you should give it more attention than the average
Former financial reporter and author of Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to
Financial Freedom Lynette Khalfani-Cox knows firsthand the havoc debt can
wreak on your life. "I was living above my means," she says. "It's
a tremendous burden. The true cost of debt and financial problems isn't just
the interest rate you're paying to Mastercard or Visa. The true cost is the
toll that it's taking on your life and your relationships."
By making a series of important changes, Khalfani-Cox was able to pay off
$100,000 in credit-card debt in three years and now coaches others struggling
with the same issues.
Is debt making you tired?
"I am a big ball of stress," admits Chris, a 30-something blogger
who writes about dealing with $75,000 in credit card debt and a possible
foreclosure at MyDebtJourney.com. "Our mountain of debt is constantly on my
mind," he says, "but I don't feel as stressed about it since I started
blogging." Before, he would often stay up until 3 a.m. worrying about how
he would take care of his wife and two young kids.