If Debt Stress is Taking it’s Toll I Have Strategies to Help

Stress is like a silent alarm going off inside your body and you probably have experienced the results of that alarm — an increased heart rate, headaches, muscle tension, an upset stomach, heart palpitations and the terrible feeling of being trapped or paralyzed.

When you begin to total up your debt your body reacts to your stress. In just the last year alone consumers have made more than 2.2 trillion dollars in purchases and cash advances on their credit cards. What is even more startling is that most consumers don’t have the money to pay their credit card bills. Academic scholars and business experts joined to write a report on the connection between debt and stress. The results were shocking – one in four workers are stressed out over their financial circumstances. Being stressed over debt only compounds a bad situation. Many people compare their financial situation to others and get frustrated when they think that most people have a healthier financial future than they do, which results in more stress. It’s reported that 40 to 50 percent of those who are financially stressed have experienced some type of negative impact on their health.

How to deal with Stress and Debt
The most important thing that you can do to relieve your stress is to confront the problem. Don’t ignore your debt; bring it out in the open. This can be difficult, especially when you realize how much debt you really owe, but in the end, this will enable you to create a plan to pay back your debt. Talk with your family about how you will begin to pay back the money, don’t use your credit cards, and speak with a professional who can answer the questions you might have regarding loans, credit card bills, and the time you have to pay them back.

If you’re trying to get out of debt, and doing it on your own hasn’t worked, you should call a credit counselor. The counselor will give you pep talks, help you develop a budget and crunch the numbers to measure your progress. “Credit counseling is a lifesaver, as long as the counselor you choose is reputable,” says Herman. A credit counselor will help you develop a budget by looking at your income, your expenses and your debt. Once you know how much money you can afford to put toward your debts each month, the counselor negotiates a workable payment plan with your creditors. This is something you can try to do yourself, but credit counseling services have ongoing relationships with most banks and may have a much better chance of getting the best rate.

Many people equate debt with failure and this produces more stress. Remember, if you make the plan and begin the long journey back to financial freedom you will also be relieving your stress. Most importantly don’t think of the worst case scenarios. Your body does not know the difference between what you are imagining and the reality of the situation, so when you do this you are only causing your body to produce more adrenaline, which in turn generates more stress. Stay positive and stick to your plan – and don’t forget to congratulate yourself when you reach a goal.

About the Author

The following blog post is from April Lewis-Parks, the director of education for Consolidated Credit She is a certified credit counselor and consumer affairs advocate who is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues. She is on the education advisory committee of the JumpStart Coalition, which is dedicated to furthering financial literacy for the youth and she is active in the South Florida chapter of Junior Achievement which promotes entrepreneurship and financial literacy through hands-on programs.