Worrying about money can be stressful, distracting and time-consuming. According to new research, a third of Americans are actually losing sleep over it.
Experts say chronic concern over finances can take quite a physical toll on the person doing the worrying.
Pricey housing, staggering electric bills, heaps of student loan debt, a puny savings account; when it comes to worrying about money, there are limitless ways to stress. And no two bodies handle it quite the same.
Just ask Dallas’ Tessa Ostheimer.
“My lease is almost up and I’m looking to move somewhere else and everywhere I look is astronomical rent. When I dwell on it, it makes my stomach hurt and it makes me kind of nauseous and that’s why I don’t eat," she says.
Courtney Canada gets that too.
“I worry about being financially stable to purchase a home, purchase a car, have children," she says. "Makes me tired, and emotional. My neck, my back, all that starts to hurt when I’m stressed out, which when I’m thinking about money I’m usually stressed out.”
A Third Of Americans In the Same Boat
These three are not alone. Each year, the public radio program Marketplace puts out a national poll called the “Economic Anxiety Index.” Last year, it showed 28 percent of Americans were losing sleep over their financial situation. This year, the figure jumped to 32 percent.
“That kind of chronic worry, worrying about that’s going to effect in this case finances, is something that does have long-term effects on the body," he says.
Pearson is a psychiatrist and says tossing in turning in bed is just one physical symptom plaguing those with money woes. They have stomach problems, chronic back pain and weak immune systems too.
And the fact that financial concern tends to be constant makes things worse.
“Worrying about being able to pay taxes, being able to pay off student loans, mortgages, worrying about whether you’re going to be able to keep your job, have a job," he says. "All of those things, that long-term duration is probably what affects us as much as anything else.”
Seeking Out Relief
Financial worry is tricky to live with, because most people need to earn more or spend less to make their situation better. And not everybody can do that.
Pearson says if money problems are disruptive and causing physical symptoms, therapy can help people manage that kind of stress. Perhaps even more important is the support of coworkers, friends and loved ones, who may have been there too.
Seeing a counselor, attending a support group, even medication won’t make financial worry disappear. They can make it easier to shoulder—and help people get a little sleep at night.